Tuesday, 15 October 2019

ON THIS DAY IN 2003, CORBYN'S MATES...

An unidentified Palestinian group killed three Americans in a bomb attack in the Gaza Strip.  The men were travelling in a vehicle convoy carrying US diplomats.  The convoy consisted of three armour-plated jeeps with a Palestinian police escort in front.  The convoy was three miles inside the Gaza Strip when a huge explosion struck the middle vehicle just after 10am.  Witnesses described how the vehicle was blown into the air and landed upside down in a crumpled mass.  Debris and body parts were spread over a large area, the engine and front axle were torn off and one of the bodies ended up 40 feet away.  The bomb, which had been buried in the dirt road, left a crater approximately 15 feet wide.  A command wire reportedly led from the road to an abandoned building 200 feet away.

No-one claimed responsibility for the attack.  Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad released statements denying involvement, fearing that it would alienate support for their cause.  The diplomatic mission had been on its way to Gaza City to interview applicants for scholarships in the US.  The three dead were all security personnel and were travelling in the same jeep as one of the diplomats.  Miraculously the diplomat survived and was initially treated at a Palestinian hospital before being transferred to an Israeli hospital.

Following the explosion American investigators arrived at the scene.  The incident occurred near a Palestinian refugee camp and groups of youngsters flocked to the site.  The investigators were pelted with stones as the mob chanted "Allahu akbar" (God is great).  Palestinian police pushed them back, but ultimately the Americans had to withdraw after hurriedly retrieving the bodies.

Palestinian investigators at the scene, the wrecked jeep can be seen in the background

The three victims were employed by US security contractor DynCorp.  John Branchizio, 37, was a former Navy SEAL from San Antonio, Texas.  A divorcee, he was survived by his eight-year-old son.  John Linde, 30, was a former US Marine from Washington, Missouri.  He was survived by his wife.  The third victim was 31-year-old New Yorker Mark Parson.