London Judge Frees Palestinian Accused in Israeli Embassy Blast

A Palestinian woman accused of involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Israeli Embassy here was freed this week after a judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence against her.

The judge in the case said Monday that he would direct the jury to acquit Nadia Zekra, 48, a Palestinian homemaker charged with planting the bomb.

The case is “fraught with pitfalls,” the judge said, adding that “it would be dangerous in the extreme to allow this case to go before a jury. I have no hesitation in discharging this case.”

Cases against another woman and two men charged in connection with the bombing are scheduled to continue.

Officials at the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Board of Deputies, the community’s umbrella group, declined to comment on Monday’s ruling, saying that they would not speak publicly until the other cases are concluded.

The July 26, 1994, embassy bombing caused $8.4 million in damage and left 14 people injured.

A second explosion occurred the next day at Balfour House, the London headquarters of the Joint Israel Appeal. Five people were injured in that attack.

On the day of the first bombing, Zekra had parked her Audi near the embassy and walked off. Six months later, she was arrested. She has spent almost five months in jail.

In a statement Monday outside the courtroom, Zekra said she had been sure that she would not be convicted.

Jawad Botmeh, 28; Samar Alami, 30; and Mahmoud Abu-Wardeh, 25, are still being tried on charges of conspiracy to cause explosions, possession of a dangerous substance and possession of three handguns.

All three have denied the charges against them.

A legal source following their trial believes that they will also be acquitted for lack of evidence.

In a separate development, Israel and Great Britain are reportedly expected to increase their cooperation in fighting terrorism by clamping down on the activities of Islamic fundamentalist groups.

Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai is expected to focus on the subject during his visit here later this month.

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