March 29, 2002: Teenage suicide bomber detonates in Jerusalem

On March 29, 2002 a teenaged Palestinian terrorist carried out a suicide attack on a Jerusalem store, killing 2 and wounding 30.

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – One of the reasons terrorism ‘terrifies’ us so much is its ordinariness.

Is there anything more ‘ordinary’ than weekly (or more frequent) grocery shopping? In millions of households around the world, especially in the West, people traipse out to the local market, grab a basket or a shopping cart and, list in hand (or not – better to have one to prevent impulse buying!), go around the aisles putting in whatever we need, whatever is on sale, or whatever catches our fancy.

This chore is so regular that I would bet no one thinks twice about it. We certainly don’t tend to ask ourselves “I wonder if I will be the victim of a terrorist attack today at my nearby Foodland?”

On this day in 2002

That is exactly what happened in Jerusalem. On that day an 18-year old Palestinian female suicide bomber detonated her explosive charge at the entrance to the Kiryat Yovel supermarket in Jerusalem, killing a 55-year-old security guard and Rachel Levy, a 17-year-old Israeli girl. In addition, about 30 people were injured in the attack. The death toll would have been much higher if the security guard had not forcibly kept the terrorist to the perimeter of the store.

He saved a large number of lives.

Israeli police on the heroics of security guard Haim Smadar

Hamas claimed the attack although the terrorist was a member of the rival Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Interestingly, intelligence suggested the unmarried teenaged bomber had been impregnated by a Fatah operative, adding that the emotional and social consequences of her unplanned pregnancy were the primary reason she decided to commit a suicide attack.

This all took place during a busy weekend afternoon. I doubt anyone had flying glass and blood on their shopping list that day.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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