Jericho bus firebombing

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Jericho bus firebombing
PikiWiki Israel 31831 Transport in Israel.jpg
Egged bus similar to the one targeted
LocationNear Jericho, on Highway 90, West Bank
DateOctober 30, 1988
Attack type
Ambush, firebombing
Deaths5 Israelis
5 Israelis
PerpetratorsPalestinian youths

The Jericho bus firebombing was a Palestinian terrorist attack that occurred during the First Intifada outside the West Bank town of Jericho. In the attack, a bus was targeted by militants wielding molotov cocktails, and destroyed. It resulted in the deaths of 5 Israelis, and the wounding of 5 others.

Two perpetrators were arrested immediately, and imprisoned by Israel. They were released after 25 years as part of the renewal of peace negotiations with the Palestinian National Authority.


On October 30, 1988, two Palestinian youths from the same extended family, Mahmud Salim Suliman Abu Khraesh of Jericho and Jum'a Ibrahim Juma Adam of Ramallah, were playing a game of cards at a cafe in Jericho, when one suggested to the other, "Let's throw another molotov cocktail."[1][2] The youths had been jailed previously for attempted firebombing. As part of their preparation of the devices, they mixed glue into the gasoline, which causes the flammable liquid to stick to potential victims.[3]

Later that evening, an Egged bus No. 961, connecting Tiberias and Jerusalem via the Jordan Valley, was making its way along Highway 90 with 22 passengers aboard. Among the passengers on the bus were Rabbi Eliezer Mordechai Weiss, his 26-year-old wife Rachel, a second-grade teacher in Tiberias, and their sons Netanel, 3, Rephael, 2, and Ephraim, 9 1/2 months, who were on their way to a family affair in Jerusalem. Rachel was a 10th-generation Jerusalemite, and one of 18 children born to Yitzhak Shlomo Zilberman, founder of Yeshivat Aderet Eliyahu. They originally had been sitting together in the front of the bus, but Rachel and the children moved to the back in order not to disturb her husband's Torah study.[2][3][4][5][6]

An Israeli military jeep passed by first, but it was not targeted. As the bus approached Jericho, the attackers appeared out of a banana grove, and forced the bus to slow down. They hurled 3 molotov cocktails at it, setting the bus alight. Most of the passengers reacted quickly, and were able to escape the burning bus unharmed. But as the flames began to spread inside the bus, Rachel Weiss went into shock, then threw herself on her children in a vain attempt to keep them alive. Israel Defence Forces (IDF) corporal David Delarosa, a passenger who had exited the bus, noticed Weiss sitting near the back door, and begged her to come out, but she refused. When he tried to pull her out, he heard her say Shema Yisrael, and he understood that she wished to remain with her children. Weiss perished along with her 3 children. Delarosa died a month and a half later from burns and smoke inhalation.[1][3][6][7]

Among the wounded were Dov Bloom, 35, and Sandy, 33, a couple from kibbutz Ma'ale Gilboa, who had made aliyah from Pittsburgh 9 years earlier.[2][3][8][9]

Weiss and her sons were buried the following day in the Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery.[2] The Israeli settlement of Rehelim was subsequently named after Weiss.[10]


Israel reacted swiftly to the attack, clamping a curfew on Jericho, and rounded up dozens of suspects for questioning. By the end of the day, the two Palestinians had confessed to engineering the attack. Adam was immediately arrested, and Abu Khraesh was taken into custody on November 3. Their homes were demolished by security forces. Before dawn the next day, a bulldozer began ripping out the groves of banana, orange, and date trees the attackers had used as cover. A few hours later, hundreds of trees had been uprooted.[1][5]


The attack, which occurred one day before the November 1 elections to the 12th Israeli Knesset, galvanized Israelis, and influenced their voting. The result was the re-election of a right-leaning Likud party coalition.[5][11][12][13]

Prisoner release[edit]

On December 30, 2013, Israel released Adam and Abu Khraesh from prison, along with 102 others, coinciding with the resumption of long-stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinian National Authority.[1][14][15]


  1. ^ a b c d Bear, Shalom (December 28, 2013) "List of Terrorists to be Released, and their Victims", The Jewish Press
  2. ^ a b c d Gradstein, Linda (November 1, 1988) "Israel Buries Victims Of Firebombing", Sun Sentinel
  3. ^ a b c d Greenfield, Daniel (July 31, 2015) "Palestinian Authority and Kerry Freed Muslim Terrorists who Burned Jewish Family to Death", Front Page Mag
  4. ^ Miller, Elhanan (July 22, 2013) "Let the Prisoners Die in Jail, Just as My Brother Lies Dead on Mt. Herzl", The Times of Israel
  5. ^ a b c Meisels, Andrew and Gradstein, Linda (November 1, 1988) "Firebombing Of Bus May Tilt Israeli Election To The Right", Sun Sentinel
  6. ^ a b "Ephraim Weiss", Victim's Memorial Site
  7. ^ Dvir, Noam (July 21, 2013) אם שכולה: "אסור שמשפחת רוצח בני תראה אותו", Ynet
  8. ^ Ben-Gedalyahu, Tzvi (July 28, 2013) "US Bus Bomb Victims Relive Horror over Terrorists’ Release", The Jewish Press
  9. ^ Lord, Rich (23 October 2015). "Living his father's prophecy". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  10. ^ Tamar el-Or and Gideon Aran (1995). "Giving birth to a settlement" (PDF). Gender & Society. 9: 60–78. doi:10.1177/089124395009001004.
  11. ^ (December 9, 1988) "A Year of Palestinian Revolt", The New York Times
  12. ^ Brinkley, Joel (1 November 1988). "Campaign in Israel Eclipsed by Deaths In Attack by Arabs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  13. ^ Frankel, Glenn (1 November 1988). "Firebombing Deaths Stun, Anger Israelis". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  14. ^ (July 28, 2013) "Group: List of Prisoners Expected to be Freed", Ma'an News Agency
  15. ^ (December 27, 2013) "Palestinians Threaten ICC Action over Settlements", i24 News

External links[edit]