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Hamas Bomber Kills 12 on Bus, President ‘Disturbed’ by Attack

By Molly Moore

and John Ward Anderson
THE WASHINGTON POST -- JERUSALEM

Seconds after Doron Kimche saw the hulking green commuter bus explode during Thursday morning’s rush hour, he sprinted out of his truck and began helping other passers-by pull charred and bloodied survivors from the wreckage of a suicide bombing that killed 12 passengers, including the bomber, and injured 47 people.

In the midst of the screams and mayhem, another volunteer rescuer hit Kimche with words that froze his heart: “Don’t you know? Your son’s in the hospital.”

Kimche sped the agonizing 1 1/2 miles to the nearest hospital and discovered that his son Maor, 15, suffered a leg wound. In a way, that made him one of the more fortunate riders on the bus.

Blood and body parts were strewn around the remains of the vehicle. The street was littered with shoes, ripped clothing, schoolbooks and other personal possessions. The doors and part of the roof were blown off by the explosion, which shattered the windows and left the inside a charred and twisted wreck. About five cars parked on the street had their windows shattered.

The military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, claimed responsibility for Thursday’s bombing, calling it retaliation for the killing of its military commander, Salah Shehada, on July 23. Hamas identified the bomber as Nael Abu Hilayel, 22, of Bethlehem, which has been one of the calmest Palestinian cities in the West Bank since the Israeli military withdrew its forces to the edge of town in August.

President Bush, attending a NATO summit in Prague, said he was “greatly disturbed” by the attack and added, “It is clear that those who want to use terror to stop any process for peace are still active. In order to achieve peace, all countries in that region must ... take responsibility, do their best to fight off terror.”

The attack came at the start of an election season in Israel that is focusing intense debate on the handling of a two-year-old uprising by Palestinian militants.