Seventeen years ago, Israel suffered what would be one of the most well-known terror attacks to hit Jerusalem, the Sbarro suicide bombing. The bombing was one of the most striking attacks of the Second Intifada, and still haunts Jerusalemites.

The bombing took place in Sbarro, a fast-food Pizza chain. Its restaurant was located on the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road, one of the busiest intersections in the center of Jerusalem.

The aftermath of the 2001 Sbarro Suicide Bombing (Wiki Commons)

A suicide bomber, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, acting on behalf of Hamas, walked into the restaurant at 2pm, when it was filled with customers, including women and children, and blew himself up. The blast killed 13, all civilians, and wounded 130. Among the dead were eight children and a pregnant American woman.

The bomber received help from fellow Palestinian Ahlam Tamimi who picked the target. She was later arrested and sent to prison. During her time in prison she was interviewed by a journalist, and when he informed her of the number of children killed in the attack, she smiled. Tamimi was released from prison in 2011 and sent to Jordan as part of the prisoner exchange with Hamas for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, but the US is now seeking her extradition.

Mordechai and Tzira Schijveschuurder, both children of Holocaust survivors were killed in the attack along with three of their children. Two other daughters, Leah, 11, and Chaya, 8, were critically injured. Chaya gave her testimony to The Guardian.

“We were hungry, so Mommy said we could go to a restaurant to eat. In that restaurant, you have to pay first and only afterwards you sit down to eat. When we were at the cash register, we suddenly heard an explosion. I ran out as fast as I could. I didn’t look at anything. I just ran out. A medic, I don’t know his name, took me to an ambulance and that is where I saw Avraham Yitzhak (her brother) for the last time.

I said to him, ‘Avraham Yitzhak!’ but he didn’t say anything. After that they took me on a stretcher to the hospital, and I had to have an operation to remove the screws that entered my liver and leg. I saw a sign on the door that said ‘Operating Room’ and started to cry. After that I didn’t see anything.

In my house, they are sitting ‘shiva’ right now. My brothers came here with their torn shirts. I asked them ‘Why are your shirts torn?’ but they didn’t want to tell me that my parents were dead. My brothers were not with us in the restaurant. They found me first. After that, they found out that my sister and my brother were dead.”

The bombing of the Sbarro pizza chain in Jerusalem was just one of many that Israel faced during the Second Intifada, a wave of Palestinian terrorism which murdered over 1,000 Israelis from 2000-2005.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern. 

This article was originally published on August 9, 2017.

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