Friday 21 August 2020


Hamas bombed a passenger bus in Jerusalem, killing four people and injuring more than a hundred.  A fifth victim died from his injuries almost ten years later.  The suicide bomber struck as the No.26 pulled up outside a high school in the suburb of Ramat Eshkol.  It was 07:53 and the bus was packed with commuters, including many students and a number of police officers travelling to work.  A police chief superintendent and a US citizen were among the dead.

The wreckage of the Number 26 bus

Little is known about the bomber, except that he was named as 26-year-old Sufian Jabarin.  Some early reports suggested that the bomber was female, but Jabarin was a male recruited by Hamas commander Abed al-Majed Duddin.  Duddin was later killed in a shootout with Israeli forces who were trying to arrest him near Hebron in 2009.  Another Hamas commander thought to have been involved in the bus bombing was Mohammed Deif, currently the supreme commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades - Hamas' paramilitary wing.  He is reportedly still at large, having survived numerous Israeli assassination attempts.

The device used in the No.26 bus attack was built by Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas bombmaker based in the West Bank.  Known as 'the Engineer', Ayyash had constructed bombs used in a string of bombings in the mid-nineties, resulting in the deaths of dozens of Israelis.  He was assassinated by the Israeli security service in January 1996, by way of a booby-trapped mobile phone containing a small explosive device.  Following his death Yasser Arafat praised Ayyash and dubbed him a 'martyr'.  In 2010 it was reported that the Palestinian Authority had named a street after him in Ramallah.

The No.26 suicide bomber was reportedly given all the trappings of a state funeral, complete with a 21-gun salute from Arafat's personal guard.  Jabarin's family were also said to have received a financial reward from the Saudi royal family.

The five fatalities of the Number 26 bombing were as follows:

Noam Aizenman, 35, from Jerusalem, a police chief superintendent
Rivka Cohen, 26, from Jerusalem
Joan Davenny, 46, from Connecticut, an American schoolteacher who was visiting Israel
Hannah Naeh, 56, from Jerusalem

Yonah Peter Malina, 28 (at time of attack), a Swiss national who had emigrated to Israel the previous year.  He was paralysed from the neck down and he spent the rest of his life connected to a respirator.  He died on 30 May 2005, aged 38.