Kiryat HaYovel supermarket bombing

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Kiryat HaYovel supermarket bombing
Part of the Second Intifada militancy campaign
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The attack site
Location Shufersal supermarket at the Kiryat HaYovel neighbourhood in Jerusalem Israel
Coordinates 31°45′42″N 35°10′30″E / 31.76167°N 35.17500°E / 31.76167; 35.17500
Date March 29, 2002
Attack type
suicide bombing
Deaths 2 Israeli civilians (+ 1 bomber)
Non-fatal injuries
28 civilians
Perpetrators One 16-year-old Palestinian female suicide bomber (Ayat al-Akhras). Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Kiryat HaYovel supermarket bombing was a suicide bombing which occurred on March 29, 2002, in which Ayat al-Akhras, a 16-year-old Palestinian female suicide bomber, blew herself up at the entrance of the main supermarket in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat HaYovel, killing three people and injuring 28.[1] Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack[edit]

The attack site, 2009
Haim Smadar Memorial Plaque at Kiryat HaYovel supermarket

On 29 March 2002, during the afternoon, a Palestinian 16-year-old female suicide bomber approached the Kiryat Yovel supermarket in Jerusalem. The supermarket at the time was full of customers shopping for the weekend.

Haim Smadar, the 55-year-old security guard who guarded the entrance to the supermarket and spoke Arabic, became suspicious after two Arabic women who usually sold vegetables outside the shop entrance had been warned by Akhras to leave. Akhras detonated the explosives at the entrance to the store while struggling with Smadar, killing him and Rachel Levy, a 17 year-old Israeli girl. In addition, about 30 people were injured in the attack. Smadar managed to forcefully keep her away from the crowd, thus preventing a larger loss of life had the attack taken place inside the store.[2]

After the attack, it was discovered that the suicide bomber was also carrying an unexploded mortar bomb.[3]

When news of the bombing reached Dheisheh, some of the residents celebrated, handing out candies and firing guns in the air.[4]


  • Haim Smadar, 55, of Jerusalem[5] – Smadar was originally born in Tunis. He immigrated to Israel as a child. Smadar worked as a guard at a school for autistic children. He took the temporary security job at the Kiryat HaYovel Shufersal supermarket to make extra money for the upcoming Passover holiday while school was closed.
  • Rachel Levy, 17, of Jerusalem[6] – Levy grew up in the United States from the age of six months until the age of nine. Levy majored in photography at the "Ziv" high school in the Beit HaKerem neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem.

The perpetrator[edit]

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the suicide bomber as 18-year-old Ayat al-Akhras from the Deheishe Refugee Camp near Bethlehem.[7] al-Akhras was the third female suicide bomber of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Akhras' father worked for an Israeli construction firm. The family lived in a three-story home he built. Akhras, a straight-A student, was engaged to be married in July 2002. She joined the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and was trained for several weeks before being sent to the Kiryat HaYovel supermarket in southwestern Jerusalem. Before the attack, Akhras made a video criticizing the Muslim world. She said: "I say to the Arab leaders, stop sleeping. Stop failing to fulfill your duty. Shame on the Arab armies who are sitting and watching the girls of Palestine fight while they are asleep."

Official reactions[edit]

  •  USA – US president Bush condemned the attack, stating: "When an 18-year-old Palestinian girl is induced to blow herself up, and in the process kills a 17-year-old Israeli girl, the future itself is dying, the future of the Palestinian people and the future of the Israeli people." He also called on Yasser Arafat to convey a clear message to terrorists that blowing themselves up did not help the cause of the Palestinians.[8]


After the bombing, Ayat became an icon in Bethlehem and was hailed as a martyr and role model at Al Quds University.[9]

Then Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Dr Ghazi Abdul Rahman Al Gosaibi, a leading politician in Saudi Arabia, wrote a poem in praise of al-Akhras in 2002.[10][11]

In 2007 HBO released the documentary film "To Die in Jerusalem" which focuses on the stories of Akhras and 17 year-old Rachel Levy, who was killed in the attack. The film documents the efforts of Rachel's mother Avigail Levy to meet with Um Samir al-Akhras, mother of al-Akhras.


External links[edit]