15 CIVILIANS SLAUGHTERED IN HAIFA TERROR ATTACK
31.....It's the moment that we all are dread.
Over 40 people were wounded as the terrorist set off a powerful body bomb belt destroying the glass-walled Matza restaurant, located along Ruppin Street in the Neve Shannon neighborhood of Haifa. The force of the explosion was so strong that it blew the roof off of the restaurant. A police source at the scene said it was not so much the nails and screws - the shrapnel that killed may have killed, it was the force of the blast buried whole families.
A Magen David Adom spokesman told Israel Radio that EMS units evacuated the wounded to Rambam, Carmel, and B'nai Tzion Hospitals, adding that the blast was extremely powerful. The attack took place on Haifa's Carmel mountain, not far from Technion University.
Witness Shimon Sabag described the horrific scene of ``watching people on fire'' and being unable to help them all. ``I couldn't deal with the critical injuries, so I turned to the moderate,'' Sabag told Israel Radio. ``I tried to put out the fire. Even the moderate injured were on fire.''
The restaurant, owned by Israeli Arabs from the Galilee, was packed and Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna said almost everyone inside was injured. Mitzna and other Israeli mayors have called on residents not to frequent restaurants which do not post a guard at the entrance. The Matza eatery was reportedly unguarded at the time of the attack.
security by Israeli police, the Israel Defense Forces and volunteers
has reached a new height with hundreds of checkposts being established
at the entrances of Israeli cities and towns.
David Baker, a spokesman from the Prime Minister's office, said that Israel will have to break "this chain of terror" and will use whatever means necessary "to achieve this at the earliest opportunity."
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon addressed the nation this evening and compared the Palestinian suicide bombers with the terrorists who attacked New York's World Trade Center. Sharon described Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat as "an enemy of Israel and an enemy of the free world."
He stated that Israel is at war with terror - a war that was thrust upon the country.
Israel cooperated with US envoy Anthony Zinni and Vice President Dick Cheney, but to no avail, said Sharon. "The only thing we got in exchange for our efforts was terror, terror, and more terror." Arafat, he said, is at the head of the terror, and "is a danger to the stability of the entire region."
Earlier this evening, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the Palestinians could have achieved their aims by negotiation instead of violence.
He said the IDF is going into the territories to do the same things the PA should have done - such as stopping terror and collecting weapons.
"We're fighting terror," he said. "We're not fighting the Palestinians."