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Background: Cycle of Violence

June 5, 2002 at 12:00 AM EDT


GABY RADO: The target was the bus from Tel Aviv to the Sea of Galilee, and the location was near Megiddo, which is Hebrew for “Armageddon.” They chose the anniversary of the Six-Day War, and they chose a new deadly method of attack. A car drew alongside the bus, turned into a giant fireball, and caused the bus to somersault through the air and roll onto the verge.

The carnage was terrible; the worst loss of Jewish life for at least six weeks. The bomber knew there would be both Israeli soldiers and Arab passengers on the bus. A man and a woman were found burned to death in each other’s arms. One survivor was the driver of the bus, who’d had close brushes with death in an extraordinary three previous terrorist attacks.

MICKEY HAREL, Bus Driver (Translated): At that moment, when I was approached from the junction, I slowed down. I know there’s usually a road block there at Megiddo, but I feel– I don’t know how to say it– like I was inside an attack. I heard only the explosion, then I lost control of the bus. That’s how I felt, that I was rolling over. Yes, the bus turned over.

GABY RADO: As hospitals once more cope with those wounded by a suicide bomb, the Israeli government yet again points the finger at the Palestinian leadership.

ARIE MEKEL, Israeli Government Spokesman: We believe that Yasser Arafat is behind all of this. While he’s spreading all kinds of rumors about futile reforms, et cetera, he’s basically doing nothing about the main issue, which is finally to put an end to terror.

GABY RADO: Along with the condemnation, the mailed fist. Israel sent its armor and troops back into the Palestinian cities of Hebron and Jenin. Yasser Arafat denied any involvement in the killings, and immediately condemned them. But his influential head of West Bank security pointed out, the Israelis themselves were facing a stark choice.

JIBRIL RAGOUB, Palestinian Security Chief: Israelis should decide whether they want security. If they want security, they should make peace. If they want occupation, they will have blood shedding. They will push the whole region to this vicious circle, through this cycle of violence.

GABY RADO: The Palestinian Authority said it would arrest the group around this man, Abdullah Shami, a leader of Islamic Jihad, if its claim to have exploded the bomb turns out to be true. He accused the West of trying to end Palestinian resistance without condemning what he called “Israeli crimes.”