Sunday, July 18, 2004

I just had a strange blogging experience. I was checking my referrer logs, and found two Google searches for "Caffit Jerusalem" and "Caffit cafe," and also "Emek Refaim Caffit" -- all within the last few hours. I wondered why this had happened -- I wrote about Caffit in December, 2003, when I was visiting Israel, but not since then. It then occurred to me wonder if something had happened in Caffit, and when I turned to Ha'aretz, I learned that Would-be bomber turned back just before blowing up cafe.

A Hamas man intending to shoot his way into a popular Jerusalem cafe and then detonate a suicide bomb, stood before the popular restaurant last week wearing a gun and a explosive belt, then reconsidered and returned to the West Bank, it was revealed Sunday.

. . .Two days after the aborted Tuesday attempt, IDF troops killed the would-be bomber, Malek Nasser a-Din, in a gun battle at his home in Hebron.

Nasser a-Din reached Jerusalem's German Colony Tuesday afternoon after entering Israel through a breach in the separation fence in the Jerusalem region. He intended to shoot the restaurant's guards, then enter and blow himself up inside. But he reconsidered, and returned to the West Bank.

"The attempted suicide bombing was made possible by the fact that the potential bomber was able to enter the city in a spot where the security fence hasn't been built yet," Zalman Shoval, a foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told Haaretz. "It was for different reasons, including luck, that he decided at the last moment not to blow himself up, but of course, Israel cannot rely on such fortuitous occurrences in the future."

Security forces have detained a number of others involved in planning the attack. Investigations revealed that Nasser a-Din picked up the explosive belt in Abu Dis, a village on Jerusalem's eastern border. He and an accomplice traveled together to the German Colony, where the bomber received the order to attack Caffit. He was seen throwing out an unidentified object on Tuesday afternoon, which initially raised suspicions.

For reasons not yet known, Nasser a-Din decided not to carry out the attack and threw away the explosive belt, which has not been found.

. . . This was not the first suicide bombing to target Caffit. Cafe staff foiled a prior incident when they overpowered another would-be bomber whose bomb failed to explode.

I had read in Ha'aretz last week that there had been a high security alert in German Colony neighborhood in Jerusalem, but they hadn't said why. Very scary.

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