Jewish and Israeli Arab families were eating lunch at this Haifa restaurant
when Arab Islamic terrorism struck Photo: AP

Jerusalem-----March 31.....It's the moment that we all are dread.
Suddenly our beepers go off. If you are a policeman, medic or a journalist you are the first to know.
Minutes later the television screen pops up with a yellow map with a red graphic depicting where yet another terrorist attack had taken place. At a few minutes past 2:30 p.m. today we learned that this place was called Haifa.
An Islamic Arab terrorist, who had been brainwashed to hate and kill innocent civilians - regardless of race, religion, sex or age, walked into a crowded lunch time restaurant and proudly murdered 15 people.
Children - still with food in their mouths and clutching a fork or spoon, lay motionless, eyes open as in total surprise.

The work of Yasser Arafat: speaking peace while the hatred he breeds kills innocents.
A relative of a victim cries as another is treated by a medic outside the restaurant where a Palestinian terrorist blew himself up in the name of "Allah" Photo: Reuters

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.

Extensive 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.

Emergency telephone hotlines have been established for relatives and friends of the terror victims:

Rambam Hospital: 125 - 5143/4

Carmel Hospital: 125 - 5142

B'nai Tzion Hospital: 125 - 5145

Please dial country code 972 before the above numbers if calling from outside of Israel

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."

A medic having just covered the remains of a burned child with a body bag

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."