Dizengoff Street bus bombing

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Dizengoff Street bus bombing
פיגוע באוטובוס קו 5 בתל-אביב.jpg
The attack site is located in Tel Aviv
The attack site
The attack site
The attack site is located in Central Israel
The attack site
The attack site
LocationDizengoff Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
Coordinates32°4′44.31″N 34°46′26.26″E / 32.0789750°N 34.7739611°E / 32.0789750; 34.7739611
DateOctober 19, 1994
9:00 am (GMT+2)
Attack type
Suicide attack
Deaths22 civilians (+ 1 suicide bomber)
PerpetratorsOne suicide bomber (Saleh Abdel Rahim al-Souwi). Hamas claimed responsibility.

The Dizengoff Street bus bombing was a Hamas suicide attack on a passenger bus driving down Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv in 1994.[1] At that time, it was the deadliest suicide bombing in Israeli history,[2] and the first successful attack in Tel Aviv.[3] 22 civilians were killed and 50 were injured.[4] The attack was planned by Hamas chief Yahya Ayyash, on the eve of the signing of the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace.


Yahya Ayyash was disappointed that the previous attack he orchestrated, the Hadera central station suicide bombing, had killed six Israelis. The bomb used in that attack had been small and made of acetone peroxide, a relatively weak explosive. For the attack on bus five, Ayyash constructed a bomb using an Egyptian land mine packed with twenty kilograms of military-strength TNT, surrounded by nails and screws. TNT is not readily available in the Palestinian territories, but Hamas had managed to acquire some by smuggling it in or purchasing it from Israeli organized crime. The device "was one of the best ever built by Ayyash."[5]

Qalqilya resident Saleh Abdel Rahim al-Souwi was selected for the attack. Al-Souwi joined Hamas after his older brother Hasin was killed in 1989, in a shootout with Israeli forces. Al-Souwi was wanted by the Israeli Shabak, but was not considered a high priority.[6] The day before the attack, al-Souwi taped a statement saying "It is good to die as a martyr for Allah" and "Sages end up in paradise".[7]


Muatab Mukadi, a member of Ayyash's Samaria battalion (of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades), drove al-Souwi to one of the bus's first stops. al-Souwi chose an aisle seat on the left side of the bus, and placed the bomb (stored in a brown bag) at his feet.

At approximately 9:00 AM, as the bus was slowing down for a stop 100 metres north of Dizengoff Square, al-Souwi detonated the bomb killing 21 Israelis and one Dutch national. The powerful explosion lifted the bus off its chassis and the heat melted the fiberglass bus frame. Limbs were projected like missiles into the seating area of nearby restaurants.[8]

Following the explosion, a crowd of demonstrators descended on the bomb site chanting "Death to the Arabs". "Police arrested scores of Arab suspects in and around the blast area, though most of them were detained to save them from the crowd's anger."[8]


Memorial to victims of the attack

At the time of the attack, it was the deadliest in Israeli history. However, subsequent bombings have been even more devastating, among them the Jaffa Road bus bombings, the Passover suicide bombing, and the Shmuel Hanavi bus bombing.[citation needed]

Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel's Prime Minister, who was in the United Kingdom on a state visit, immediately returned to Israel. Ayyash's name and pictures of the demolished bus were featured in newspapers around the world.

Israeli police quickly identified al-Souwi as the perpetrator. The day after the bombing, with his identify confirmed using DNA, al-Souwi's family threw a neighborhood party celebrating his "martyrdom." That afternoon, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) destroyed the house, after giving the family one hour to remove their possessions.[9]


  1. ^ Haberman, Clyde (20 October 1994). "On the No. 5 Bus Line, A Thud, Then Silence". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Haberman, Clyde (20 October 1994). "20 Killed In Terrorist Bombing Of Bus In Tel Aviv". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Katz, p. 153
  4. ^ Death toll
  5. ^ Katz, pp. 147, 150
  6. ^ Katz, pp. 147-148
  7. ^ Katz, p. 149
  8. ^ a b Katz, p. 151
  9. ^ Katz, p. 160

Further reading[edit]