Palestinian suicide bombings 1994-2004:
Don't let the world forgetů.

London - revised on 2 September 2004
Beyond Images Ref: 78

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For the world, suicide bombings against Israel make a short-term media impact: and then are forgotten, just history. But in Israel this is not so. The country has experienced 10 years of Palestinian suicide bombings. We cannot permit the world to ignore or understate what this experience means.

We have published other Briefings on the causes and responses to suicide bombings. Here we provide the essential facts. The details of the individual attacks are extracted from the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The first suicide bombing

The first Palestinian suicide bombing occurred in April 1994 in the Israeli town of Afula. This took place at the height of the Oslo process, just as Israel was withdrawing from the Gaza Strip.

Over 120 suicide bombings since then

Since 1994, over 120 suicide attacks have taken place against Israel. Below we list 77 suicide bombings which have taken Israeli lives.

Equivalents in other countries

This total of 120 suicide attacks would equate (by reference to total population) to the following totals (approximately):

  • 1080 suicide attacks in the UK
  • 4800 suicide attacks in USA
  • 480 suicide attacks in Australia
  • 540 suicide attacks in Canada
  • 600 suicide attacks in South Africa
  • 1140 suicide attacks in France.

What would the mood be like in any of those countries, had they experienced such an assault?

The death toll

656 people have been killed in the 77 suicide attacks we list below, including a very high proportion of teenagers, children, women and the elderly. Non-Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism come from 18 countries (see Briefing 79).

Palestinian targets range across the spectrum of Israeli society

Civilian targets inside Israel which have been attacked include:-

  • restaurants and pizzerias
  • bars and coffee houses
  • passenger buses
  • the entrance to a synagogue
  • a hotel Passover feast
  • a discotheque
  • university bus stops, buses and a cafeteria
  • shopping centres
  • open-air markets
  • pedestrian precincts
  • railway and bus stations
  • gas storage terminal
  • a snooker hall
  • an ice-cream parlor
  • a barmitzvah party

Five Palestinian groups have been involved in suicide bombings:-
  • Hamas
  • Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade (linked to Yasser Afafat’s Fatah)
  • Islamic Jihad
  • PFLP – the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
  • The Fatah Tanzim

They frequently claim joint responsibility for attacks, or even compete to claim “credit” for the same attack.

Involvement of Palestinian women and children

Palestinian women have carried out several suicide bombings; and children have been exploited to smuggle bomb belts or even to attempt to carry out attacks themselves.

Suicide bombings started 7 years before Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister: (see Briefing 51)

Suicide bombings cannot be condoned as a legitimate response to a grievance:
(see Briefing 41)

Suicide bombings are not caused by despair, but by the manipulation of despair by fanatical terror groups: (see Briefing 27)

Suicide bombings do not advance the Palestinian cause, but sabotage it: (see Briefings 49 and 68).

Suicide bombing methods are designed to inflict maximum suffering

Bombs have routinely been filled with nails, or ball-bearings or pieces of metal or screws to maximise the suffering of the victims (see Briefing 27). Occasionally, the bomb fragments have been coated with rat poison, to infect surviving victims.

Rescuers are themselves attacked

On numerous occasions a second bomb has been detonated to catch those rescuing victims of the first.

The survivors suffer horrific injuries, and trauma

Thousands of surviving Israelis have been horrifically maimed and traumatised. Many are in long-term rehabilitation. Thousands of families have been shattered.

Suicide bombing is just one Palestinian method of mass murder

Suicide bombing is just one Palestinian method of committing mass murder: others include machine-gun attacks, grenade attacks on bus passengers or worshippers, stabbings, Qassam rocket attacks, driving a hijacked bus into passengers waiting at a bus-stop, drive-by shootings, gunmen running amok, car-bombs, land-mines and booby-trapped vehicles.

Many attempted suicide attacks are foiled by Israel

77 suicide bombings are listed below: many more attempted attacks are foiled by Israeli security services, or otherwise “fail” : see Briefing 88.

Palestinian suicide bombings: 1994 -2004

Note: where the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website specifies which Palestinian group carried out each bombing, we include that detail below.

Bus bomb, Afula. 7 killed. 6 April 1994. Hamas.

Bus bomb in Hadera. 5 killed. 13 April 1994. Hamas.

No5 bus, central Tel-Aviv. 22 killed. 19 October 1994.

Beit Lid traffic junction near Netanya, double bombing. 21 killed. 22 January 1995. Islamic Jihad.

Bus bomb, Ramat Gan, central Israel. 6 killed. 24 July 1995.

Bus bomb in Northern Jerusalem, 4 killed. 21 August 1995.

No18 bus bombed on successive Sundays in central Jerusalem. Total 45 killed. 25 February and 3 March 1996.

Hitchhiking post, Ashkelon. 1 killed. 25 February 1996.

Shopping centre, central Tel-Aviv. 13 killed. 4 March 1996.

Central marketplace, Jerusalem, double-bombing. 16 killed, 178 injured. 30 July 1997.

Pedestrian mall, central Jerusalem, triple bombing. 5 killed, 181 injured.
5 September 1997.

Apropos Café, central Tel-Aviv. 3 killed. March 1999.

Town centre, Netanya. 3 killed, 60 injured. 4 March 2001. Hamas.

Bus stop, Kfar Saba. 2 killed, 4 injured. 28 March 2001. Hamas.

Shopping centre, Netanya. 5 killed, 100 injured. 18 May 2001. Hamas.

Dolphinarium discotheque, Tel-Aviv. 21 killed, 120 injured. 1 June 2001. Hamas.

Dugit, Gaza Strip. 2 killed. 22 June 2001.

Bus stop, Binyamina. 2 killed, 11 injured. 16 July 2001. Islamic Jihad.

Sbarro pizzeria, Jerusalem. 15 killed, 130 injured. 9 August 2001. Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Train station, Nahariya. 3 killed, 90 injured. 9 September 2001.

Kibbutz Sheluhot entrance. 1 killed. 7 October 2001.

No823 bus, Hadera. 3 killed, 9 injured. 29 November 2001. Islamic Jihad.

Ben Yehuda Street pedestrian mall, Jerusalem. 11 killed, 180 injured. 1 December 2001. Hamas.

No16 bus, Haifa. 15 killed, 40 injured. 2 December 2001. Hamas.

Jaffa Road, Central Jerusalem. 1 killed, 150 injured. 27 January 2002. Fatah.

Pizzeria, Ginot Shomron (Samaria). 2 killed, 30 injured. 16 February 2002. PFLP.

Synagogue entrance, Jerusalem. 11 killed, 50 injured. 2 March 2002. Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs.

Central Bus station, Afula. 1 killed, many injured. 5 March 2002. Islamic Jihad.

Moment Café, Jerusalem. 11 killed, 54 injured. 9 March 2002. Hamas.

No823 bus, Wadi Ara junction. 7 killed, 30 injured. 20 March 2002. Islamic Jihad.

Main shopping street, Jerusalem. 3 killed, 86 injured. 21 March 2002. Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Passover meal, Park hotel, Netanya. 30 killed, 140 injured. 27 March 2002. Hamas.

Supermarket, Jerusalem. 2 killed, 28 injured. 29 March 2002. Bombing claimed by Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs.

Matza restaurant, Haifa. 15 killed, 40 injured. 31 March 2002. Hamas.

Police roadblock, Jerusalem. 1 killed. 1 April 2002. Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Café, Tel-Aviv. 1 killed, 30 injured. 4 April 2002. Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Bus No960, near Haifa. 8 killed, 22 injured. 10 April 2002. Hamas.

Mahane Yehuda open-air market, Jerusalem. 6 killed, 104 injured. 12 April 2002. Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Snooker club, Rishon Lezion. 15 killed, 55 injured. 7 May 2002. Hamas.

Shopping centre, Netanya. 3 killed, 59 injured. 19 May 2002. Hamas and PFLP.

Pedestrian precinct, Rishon LeZion, central Israel. 2 killed, 40 injured. 22 May 2002.

Ice-cream parlour, Petah Tikva. 2 killed, 37 injured. 27 May 2002. Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs.

No830 bus, Megiddo, Northern Israel. 17 killed, 38 injured. 5 June 2002. Islamic Jihad.

Restaurant, Herzliya. 1 killed, 15 injured. 11 June 2002.

No 32A bus, Jerusalem, Patt junction. 19 killed, 70 injured. 18 June 2002. Hamas.

French Hill bus stop, North Jerusalem. 7 killed, 50 injured. 19 June 2002. Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Tel-Aviv, central bus station. 5 killed, 40 injured, in double-bomb attack. 17 July 2002. Bombing claimed by Islamic Jihad.

Student cafeteria, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 9 killed, 85 injured. 31 July 2002. Hamas.

Bus361, Meron, Northern Israel. 9 killed, 50 injured. 4 August 2002. Hamas.

Bus stop, Umm Al Fahm, central Israel. 1 killed, 3 injured. 18 September 2002. Islamic Jihad.

No4 bus, central Tel-Aviv. 6 killed, 70 injured. 19 September 2002. Hamas.

Bus stop, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan. 1 killed, 30 injured. 10 October 2002. Hamas.

No841 bus, Wadi Ara, northern Israel. 14 killed, 50 injured. 21 October 2002. Islamic Jihad.

Petrol station, Ariel. 3 killed, 20 injured. 27 October 2002. Hamas.

Shopping centre, Kfar Sava. 2 killed, 70 injured. 4 November 2002. Islamic Jihad.

No20 bus, Jerusalem. 11 killed, 50 injured. 21 November 2002. Hamas.

Tel-Aviv, near central bus station. 23 killed, 120 injured. Double suicide bombing. 5 January 2003. Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Islamic Jihad joint attack.

No37 bus to Haifa University. 17 killed, 53 injured. 5 March 2003. Hamas.

Mike’s Place beachfront bar, Tel-Aviv. 3 killed, 60 injured. 30 April 2003. Hamas.

Pedestrian precinct, Hebron, 2 killed. 17 May 2003. Hamas.

No6 bus, North Jerusalem. 7 killed, 20 injured. 18 May 2003. Hamas.

Shopping centre, Afula. 3 killed, 70 injured. 19 May 2003. Islamic Jihad and and Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade joint attack.

No14A bus, Central Jerusalem. 17 killed. 100 injured. 11 June 2003. Hamas.

Supermarket, Moshav Sde Trumot. 1 killed. 19 June 2003. Islamic Jihad.

Moshav Kfar Yavetz, private home. 1 killed, 3 injured. 7 July 2003. Islamic Jihad.

Bus stop, Ariel. 1 killed, 3 injured. 12 August 2003

No2 bus from the Western Wall, Jerusalem. 23 killed, 130 injured. 19 August 2003. Hamas.

Tzrifin hitchhiking post, North-East of Tel Aviv. 9 killed, 30 injured. 9 September 2003. Mass murder bombing claimed by Hamas.

Café Hillel, central Jerusalem. 7 killed, 50 injured. 9 September 2003. Hamas.

Maxim restaurant, Haifa. 23 killed, 60 injured. 4 October 2003. Islamic Jihad.

Erez crossing-point, North Gaza - terminal building for Palestinian workers. 4 Israelis killed, 10 injured. 14 January 2004. PFLP.

No19 bus, Central Jerusalem. 11 killed, 50 injured. 29 January 2004. Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

No14 bus, Central Jerusalem. 7 killed, 60 injured. 22 February 2004. Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Ashdod port facilities, southern Israel, double suicide bombing. 10 killed, 16 injured. 10 March 2004. Hamas and Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Simultaneous double bus bomb attack, Be'er Sheva, southern Israel. 16 killed, 100 injured. 31 August 2004. Hamas

Summary and conclusion

Suicide bombings began in 1994.

In the 77 bombings listed above, a total of 656 people have been killed, including a large proportion of women, children, teenagers and elderly people.

Targets are across the spectrum of Israeli society.

Five Palestinian groups have been involved in carrying out attacks.

Palestinian women and children have been recruited to participate in attacks, or assist in them.

Bombing methods are designed to inflict maximum suffering.

Rescuers have themselves been bombed.

The survivors suffer horrific injuries and trauma.

Suicide bombing is just one Palestinian method of mass murder.

Many suicide attacks are foiled.

The International Court of Justice concluded in July 2004 that Israel has no right of self-defence against Palestinian suicide bombings under international law.