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Yeshivat Beit Yisrael massacre

Yeshivat Beit Yisrael massacre
Part of the Second Intifada militancy campaign
The attack site
Location Jeusalem, Israel
Date March 2, 2002
c. 19:00 pm (GMT+2)(GMT+2)
Attack type
suicide bombing
Deaths 11 civilians (+ 1 suicide bomber)
Non-fatal injuries
Over 50, 4 critically
Perpetrators Palestinian assailant (Mohammed al-Dararmeh). The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Yeshivat Beit Yisrael massacre[1] was a Palestinian suicide bombing which occurred in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood in downtown Jerusalem on March 2, 2002. Eleven Israeli civilians were killed in the attack, including two infants, three children and two teenagers. Over 50 people were injured in the attack, four of them critically. The bombing took place at the entrance of the Haredi yeshiva "Beit Yisrael" in central Jerusalem where people had gathered for a bar mitzva celebration. The suicide bomber detonated the bomb full of shrapnel alongside a group of women with their baby strollers, waiting for the services in a nearby synagogue to conclude. The Palestinian Islamist militant organization al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.[2][3][4][5][6]

The attack

The bombing took place on Saturday evening in the ultra-Orthodox Beit Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem, a deprived area with harsh living standards. The neighborhood had been targeted in three previous attacks.

Shortly after 7 PM, the streets were thronged with worshipers that had finished the sun-down prayers that mark the conclusion of the Shabbat. Near the Mahane Yisrael yeshiva, a religious institution in Beit Yisrael, people had gathered for the bar mitzva celebration of the Hazan family who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the bar mitzvah of their son Naveh. The Hajabi family were also celebrating their child's bar mitzvah.[2][3][4]

The bomber blew himself up just as the family and guests began to leave and was standing alongside a group of women waiting with their baby carriages for their husbands to return from the synagogue. Among the dead were an infant and her six-year-old brother, a mother and her three-year-old son and a 12-year-old boy. The dead included members of the Hajabi and Hazan families. Eight of those killed came from the Nehmad family, who were relatives of the Hajabis. The bombing occurred only meters from the site of a previous car bombing the year before.

The blast shook downtown Jerusalem and ignited a nearby car. At the Mahane Israel seminary, a site where up to 1,000 Jews prayed every Saturday evening, a stone wall was splattered in blood. Two babies were taken to the Haddasah hospital, the whereabouts of their parents unknown.[2][3][5]

Shlomi, an eyewitness, saw a baby carriage alongside a dead baby and other dead people. Another witness said that she and everyone else in her family had been injured when the bomber attacked. "I was speaking with everyone and when I turned around I saw people flying in the air. My brother fell onto me. I didn't know if my brother was wounded or the blood of other wounded people was on him. All I felt was pain."

Eitan of the Magen David Adom recounted, "We arrived at the site and saw scenes of horror: young children, old people, women, lying in the road without hands, without legs, blood everywhere and enormous destruction all about. Only some had the strength to scream or cry. The quiet was the thing I remember most... This was one of the worst attacks I can remember."

A woman who was pregnant with twins survived but lost both of her unborn children.[citation needed]

Livnat, the sister of Sofia Ya'arit Eliyahu who died in the blast with her seven-month-old son, described her experience. "On Saturday night, we went out for a walk with two baby carriages. Sofia's baby started crying and she bent down to pick him up, while I continued walking with her little girl. We were 10 meters from them when we heard a horrendous explosion ... I looked back and saw only a huge inferno. Sofia and the baby had disappeared." [2][3][7]


Ten people were killed in the attack, an eleventh later dying of his injuries. Eight of those killed were from the same family. Over 50 people were injured.

The Nehmad Family

Eight of those killed were from the Nehmad family who had traveled to Jerusalem to partake in the family celebrations of the bar mitzvah of Ziva Hajabi's son. Ziva's brother, Shlomi Nehmad, and his wife Gafnit, and their young children, Shiraz and Liran were killed in the attack. Shlomi's teenage nephew, Shaul Nehmad also died. His brother Avraham Eliahu, lost an arm in the attack and later died of his injuries.

Ronit Ilan, the sister of Shlomi Nehmad, and her husband Shimon was standing outside in Mahane Israel. With them were their two children: a 12-year-old boy, Lidor, and their 18-month-old daughter, Oriah, held in her father's arms. The explosion sent the baby girl flying into the air and both children died. Shimon Ilan's legs were injured in the attack. He was released from hospital in a wheelchair to attend his children's funerals. In his eulogy for the Nehmad family, Health Minister Nissim Dahan said: "They cut off the most beautiful flowers before their time was due."[10]


The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of Palestinian Authority, claimed responsibility for the attack. They said that the attack was to avenge "the continued Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people" and identified the bomber as Mohammed al-Dararmeh.[2][3][4][5]

Official reactions

Involved parties

Template:Country data Israel:

  • The Israeli government sources said they would hold Yasser Arafat was personally responsible, as the Al-Aqsa Brigades were under his control.
  • Tzipi Livni said, "the difference between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and between Israelis and Palestinians, is that terrorists are deliberately targeting civilians, and you will never find that in what the IDF forces are doing."

23x15px Palestinian territories:

  • The PA cabinet criticized the attack, though stating that Israel was responsible for the escalation of the violence.
  • Hundreds of Palestinians celebrated on hearing the news and took to the streets firing guns into the air.[4]
  • Marwan Barghouti, a leader in the Fatah movement promised that his organization would continue the attacks on Israel. "The resistance forces will continue to strike at the Zionist enemy and I am certain that the force of these strikes will even increase."
  • 23x15px United Nations – United Nations human rights chief Mary Robinson expressed her shock and horror and said, "Acts of suicide bombings in Israel harm the interests and aspirations of the Palestinian people because they undermine support for the cause of self-determination and the fight against occupation."
  • 23x15px USA – The US State Department harshly condemned this "terrorist outrage". "Such murder of innocent citizens cannot be justified and can only harm the interests and aspirations of the Palestinian people in progress toward a better future ... We call upon Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to do everything possible to confront and stop the terrorists responsible for these criminal acts."[2][3][4][5][11]


The Nehamad family were buried in Rishon Letzion. The Israeli Health Minister, Nissim Dahan, said of the dead: "They cut off the most beautiful flowers before their time was due." The eulogies expressed feelings of bitterness and anger.[10] Sofia Ya'arit Eliyahu, 23, and her seven-month-old son, Avraham Eliyahu were buried at Moshav Noam.[7]

External links

See also