JERUSALEM (May. 28)
An elderly Jewish man was fatally wounded when a small pipe bomb exploded shortly past noon Monday in the crowded Machaneh Yehuda fruit and vegetable market in the center of Jerusalem.
Ten other people suffered varying degrees of injuries requiring hospitalization. Two of them were reported in serious condition.
Shimon Cohen, 72, of Jerusalem succumbed to his injuries several hours after he was rushed to Shaare Zedek Hospital.
At least 40 Arabs were arrested for questioning, in what the authorities said was clearly a terrorist act.
The bomb explosion was widely believed to be revenge for the massacre of seven Palestinian day laborers and the wounding of at least 10 others by a lone Israeli gunman near Rishon le-Zion on May 20.
Palestinian terrorist groups had been calling for revenge. Leaflets circulated by intifada activists exhorted Palestinians to take up firearms.
The bombing was clearly planned to cause a large number of casualties. The Machaneh Yehuda market, the scene of past terrorist attacks, was especially crowded with people shopping for Shavuot, which begins at sundown Tuesday.
Police said the bomb was concealed in a plastic bag and placed in a trash bin in the center of the market.
ARABS AND JOURNALISTS BEATEN
The rage of Jewish vendors and shoppers was predictable, but its targets were not readily explicable.
Although Arabs who happened to be at the scene were beaten up, so were a number of Israeli journalists and camera crews, whom the crowds pelted with rocks and other heavy objects.
One news photographer was hospitalized after being punched and kicked.
Two members of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach movement were arrested on suspicion of attacking journalists. Other Kach supporters ran through the crowds screaming, “Death to the Arabs.”
But two hours after the blast, the stalls of the market were crowded again with shoppers.
Political reactions were also predictable.
The center-left Shinui party expressed shock and urged Prime Minister-designate Yitzhak Shamir to “acknowledge the reality that Israel must respond positively to U.S. Secretary of State James Baker” and begin talks with the Palestinians immediately.
The left suggested that the government’s policies caused the situation to deteriorate.
Knesset member Elyakim Haetzni of the far-right Tehiya party, on the other hand, called for the immediate arrest of Palestinian leaders Faisal Husseini, Sari Nusseibeh and Radwan Abu Ayyash.
He blamed them for every violent act “in the land of Israel.”
The three Palestinians have been on a hunger strike to protest the May 20 killings.
Husseini condemned the bombing, saying he “absolutely rejects attacks against civilians.”