Beersheba bus bombings

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Beersheba bus bombings
Part of the Second Intifada militancy campaign
Israel outline northwest negev.png
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The attack site
Location Beersheba
Date August 31, 2004
Shortly before 3:00 pm
Attack type
suicide bombing
Deaths 16 Israeli civilians (+ 2 suicide bombers)
Non-fatal injuries
100+ Israeli civilians
Perpetrators 2 Palestinian assailants (Nassem Jabari and Ahmad Qawasme). Hamas claimed responsibility

The Beersheba bus bombings were two suicide bombings carried out nearly simultaneously aboard commuter buses in Beersheba, Israel, on August 31, 2004. 16 people were killed[1] and more than 100 were injured. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks.[2]


The city of Be'er Sheva did not experience attacks of this magnitude prior to that point. During the Second Intifada in the early 2000s (decade), at the time which was characterized by an intensified period of suicide attacks were carried out in Israel by the Palestinian militant organizations in Israel, Be'er Sheva was considered a relatively safe place, as it did not experience any terror attacks.

In 2004, the year in which the attack was carried out, the second intifada was declining, and then the tensions escalated in March 2004, with the assassination of the leader of Hamas Ahmed Yassin. A month later, in April, Yassin's successor Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi was assassinated. After those two assassinations Israel had the quietest four months since the outbreak of the Second Intifada, which came to an end when the Beersheba bus bombings were carried out.

The attacks[edit]

At time of the attacks, the "Metrodan Beersheba" public buses (lines 6 and 12) were packed with Israeli civilians and were traveling along the main street of Beersheba, Rager Boulevard, near the Cty hall, at a very crowded place.[3] At 14:50 pm, the first bomber blew up the explosive device hidden underneath his clothes on bus No. 6 as the bus passed a busy intersection in the center of town. Two minutes later, the second bomber blew himself up while on board bus No. 12 which was located about 100 meters away from the first bus. The force of the explosion, which blew away and mutilated the limbs of many civilians, made it difficult for the authorities to identify the victims. The youngest victim was a 3½ year old boy killed while sitting on his mother's lap.


The memorial built near the site of the attack in memory of the victims of the attack

Many of the passengers had been returning from shopping at an open-air market, while others were students coming home from school.[4] According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the fatalities, all residents of Beersheba, were:[5]

The perpetrators[edit]

After the attacks the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attacks. Hamas distributed leaflets in Hebron which stated that the attack was in revenge for the assassination of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi by Israel.[22] The Israeli government accused Syria[23][24] and "terror command posts in Damascus" of involvement in the attack.[25]

A video tape released after the attack by Hamas showed the two suicide bombers, Nassem Jabari (22) and Ahmad Qawasme (26), posing with rifles and posters.[4]


Following the bombing, an estimated 20,000 Hamas supporters in Gaza took to the streets to celebrate.[4]

The Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom placed the blame on Yasser Arafat for not preventing the attacks, and for bringing nothing but "terror and evil" since his return to the Palestinian territories.[5]


The lethal attack was a shock to the Israeli public, especially due to the fact that the two Palestinian suicide bombers managed to get from Hebron to Beersheba after simply walking across the Green Line demarcation lines without difficulty. For this reason, after the attack many Israeli public officials, including Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi made emphasized that a hermetic separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank was vital to Israel's security. The southern part of the Israeli West Bank barrier was completed only after the attack.

On September 26, 2004, Izz El-Deen Sheikh Khalil, a senior member of Hamas' military wing, was killed in a car bombing in the al-Zahera district of southern Damascus, Syria. The killing was blamed on Israeli agents. Officially, the Israeli government refused to claim responsibility, but unnamed Israeli sources unofficially acknowledged that Israel had assassinated Khalil as a response to the Beersheba bus bombings.[25]


  1. ^ 16 killed in suicide bombings on buses in Israel – published on CNN on September 1, 2004
  2. ^ Twin Blasts Kill 16 in Israel; Hamas Claims Responsibility, The New York Times, September 1, 2004
  3. ^ American Jewish Year, Book 2005. David Singer, Lawrence Grossman. p. 243
  4. ^ a b c Palestinians celebrate deadly Israeli bus bombings. Reuters.
  5. ^ a b Double bombing of buses in Beersheba. Press Release. Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.August 31, 2004
  6. ^ Shoshana Amos
  7. ^ Aviel Atash
  8. ^ Vitaly Brodsky
  9. ^ Tamara Dibrashvilli
  10. ^ Raisa Forer
  11. ^ Larisa Gomanenko
  12. ^ Denise Hadad
  13. ^ Tatiana Kortchenko
  14. ^ Rosita Lehman
  15. ^ Karine Malka
  16. ^ Nargiza Ostrovsky
  17. ^ Margarita Sokolov
  18. ^ Roman Sokolovsky
  19. ^ Tiroayent Takala
  20. ^ Eliyahu Uzan
  21. ^ Emmanuel Yosef
  22. ^ The new Iranian leadership: Ahmadinejad, terrorism, nuclear ambition, and the Middle East. Yonah Alexander, Milton M. Hoenig. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008. ISBN 978-0-275-99639-0
  23. ^ The Israeli-Palestinian war: escalating to nowhere. By Anthony H. Cordesman, Jennifer Moravitz. p. 240
  24. ^ Country Reports on Terrorism 2004. By State Department, Office of the Coordinator for Conterterrorism. p. 90
  25. ^ a b Targeting terrorists: a license to kill? By Avery Plaw. p. 79

External links[edit]