Sunday, March 22, 2009

22-Mar-09: In Haifa, the terrorists were out of luck tonight

A reminder, yet another, of what it means to be living in a neighbourhood where terrorism and savagery erupt whenever civil society looks the other way.

In Haifa tonight (Saturday), Israel Police explosives experts neutralized multiple bombs concealed in a vehicle parked just outside the very busy Lev Hamifratz shopping mall. The mall was evacuated and police activity caused heavy traffic delays in the area. Dozens of kilograms of explosives were found - enough to cause extensive damage and loss of life if they had not been detected and safely detonated. One report says the explosives were packed into 14 black bags inside a rucksack.

Haaretz says the attack began around 8pm Saturday night with a small explosion near a Subaru parked in a lot adjacent to the shopping center. Police were called and they found several explosive devices hidden in the vehicle. At this hour (Sunday morning, 1:00 am) there is a court gag order on further details of the case.

A notification from an Israeli Arab organization styling itself "Galilee Freedom Brigade" (alternatively 'Galilee Freedom Battalions' according to YNet) has claimed responsibility for the attack. It's not clear whether such a group exists. A similar name was used a year ago when Palestinian Arabs sought to grab some of the 'glory' from the massacre of high school students in Jerusalem Merkaz Harav seminary.

The Lev Hamifratz (literally "heart of the bay") shopping mall is a transport hub, located adjacent to a major train station with lines running north to Nahariya and south to Tel Aviv, and next to the Mifratz Central Bus Station, between Haifa's Krayot northern suburbs and Haifa itself. The building has 3 floors of stores, a food court, an underground parking garage, and an above ground parking garage.

Saturday nights are the busiest of the week, as they are for malls throughout Israel. Which makes them the ideal strategic target for jihadist barbarians with access to explosives.

Coping with the dangers posed by this sort of routine terrorism depends on there being adequate awareness of the facts. Sadly, the absence of dead and maimed Israelis almost certainly means this latest near-atrocity will go largely unreported outside Israel.

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