March 23, 2011 / 17 Adar II 5771
An explosion rocked Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon, killing an elderly woman, wounding more than 30, and shattering the calm that had prevailed in the city. The bomb exploded at a bus stop between the city’s Central Bus Station and the International Convention Center at Binyanei ha-Umah. Early reports said the device went off as Bus 74—which runs through the city from north to south—passed by the stop. Shlomo Steiner, an employee at the Central Bus Station, told Ynet he heard a loud blast. “I looked through the window of the station and saw smoke rising and a yeshiva bochur [student] running with his legs on fire,” he said. “I saw people lying on the ground. It was very scary.” Tuvia Neit, who was near the site of the explosion, said, “I was on my way to class. I saw the explosion from some 20 meters [60 feet] away. It was a massive explosion. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Another eyewitness told Ynet, “It was insane. People lay on the ground bleeding. Whoever could got away. There was serious hysteria.” Early police estimates said the explosive device had been planted by a telephone pole near the bus stop. Police and army units have launched a manhunt in an effort to track down the perpetrator.
Following the attack, the city’s striking social workers went back to work on an emergency basis, and hospitals prepared to treat the wounded. The main road into Jerusalem was blocked off.
Earlier Wednesday, terrorists fired two Katyusha rockets from Gaza toward the southern city of Be’er Sheva. One rocket hit a street in a residential area, damaging multiple buildings—including a synagogue—and lightly wounding one man. The second rocket landed in an open area. A number of individuals were treated for shock. The rocket attack came just hours after a rocket fired from Gaza landed in the port city of Ashdod. Schools were closed in both cities.
The day’s events are part of a dramatic escalation in recent weeks, with the horrific murder of a young family asleep in their beds on Shabbat two weeks ago and dozens of Qassam rockets raining down on the Western Negev farming communities and towns in recent days.
The Jewish Agency stands ready to assist those affected by these attacks through our Fund for the Victims of Terror. The fund, which focuses on providing direct financial assistance to victims of terror and their families, has helped more than 5,000 families since its establishment in 2002. Funds collected have gone to provide medical treatment, psychological care, and general welfare assistance to those affected by terror, in order to aid the slow process of healing and recovery. When necessary, grants are provided to families in order to address their immediate needs—sometimes including the most basic of needs like food and shelter, in the event of damage to a residence—in the aftermaths of attacks, as government authorities and welfare services mobilize to provide a response. In some cases, funds have been used to finance memorial activities and sites by families who would not otherwise have had the means to properly memorialize their loved ones. The fund also provides additional dedicated grants, such as an orphans’ grant that includes setting up a bank account for orphans who were under the age of 18 when the event took place, and scholarships for deserving family members.
The Fund for the Victims of Terror is in dire need of replenishment. Funds have been dwindling of late, and as today’s events have sadly demonstrated, the need to provide assistance to victims of terror remains critical as ever.