November 21, 2002: Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem

A Hamas suicide bomber detonated his device on a crowded bus in Jerusalem in November 2002, killing 11 and wounding 50.

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – It is an odd thing that we do not see more attacks against public transit infrastructure such as buses.

As I type this piece, COVID-19 is still raging here in Canada. While malls and restaurants are picking up, one part of the economy which is showing few signs of getting back to ‘normal’ is public transit.

Whenever I see an OC Transpo (Ottawa-Carleton Transportation) bus or train go by I instinctively look inside to see how crowded it is. Spoiler alert: it is not. These vehicles are all but empty. The last time I took the O-train, as it is called, I had an entire car to myself.

I know this is not scientifically-based but it is nevertheless telling. People are not ready, at least not in Ottawa, to get back on the bus/train. And this in a city with pretty good service, at least to the downtown core, where the vast majority of civil servants work. I also know that many of those public workers are doing so from home, but still, public transit is suffering (ridership in September 2020 was at 30 % of pre-pandemic levels, the highest it’s been since transit use cratered in March when the COVID-19 pandemic began).

Sunday service' possible every day on railways - BBC News
No problem with ‘social distancing’ here!

On this day on 2002

We normally associate publicly-funded transportation systems with crowds: that has certainly been my experience around the world. Which makes them a lucrative and attractive terrorist target. Lots of people sitting (or standing) cheek to jowl and none of them in a position to defend themselves.

So we get attacks like the one on a bus in Jerusalem on this day in 2002. A Hamas suicide bomber boarded bus number 20 in Kiryat Menachem, a neighbourhood in southwest Jerusalem. He detonated his device, killing 11 and wounding 50.

Our religion says we are proud of him until the day of resurrection

Father of Na’el Abu Hilall, the suicide terrorist.

Many see taking the bus as a chore, surrounded by people you don’t know, some of whom may not think much of personal hygiene. That does not mean you should have to worry about getting killed on one. Somewhat counterintuitively, it is rare (thankfully!).

RIP to all the innocent victims.

Phil Gurski

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