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Car bomb explosion on Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem, February 22, 1948

The Ben Yehuda Street bombings refer to a series of attacks by Palestinians and suicide bombers on civilians in downtown Jerusalem, Israel in 1948 and later on. The attacks were carried out on Ben Yehuda Street, a major thoroughfare, later a pedestrian mall, named for the founder of modern Hebrew, Eliezer Ben Yehuda.


1948 Ben Yehuda Street bombing
Location Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem
Date February 22, 1948
Target Pedestrian shopping mall
Attack type
car bombs
Deaths 58
Non-fatal injuries

On February 22, 1948, three British Army trucks led by an armoured car driven by Arab irregulars and British deserters exploded on Ben Yehuda Street killing 58 Jewish civilians and injuring 140.[1][2] A statement issued by the Arab High Command the following day claimed full responsibility and said the explosions were in retaliation for an Irgun bomb attack in Ramla.[citation needed][3] ‘Unless the Jews adhere to the rules of war, we shall continue indiscriminate reprisals on a bigger scale.’ said the communique.[citation needed] In Damascus, Arab political officials also said that the explosion was the work of Arabs.

Two British deserters (Eddie Brown, a police captain who claimed that the Irgun had killed his brother; and Peter Madison, an army corporal) were involved in the attack, having been promised pay by Abd al-Kader al-Husseini, who was the commander of the Holy War Army forces in the area.[4]


1975 Ben Yehuda Street Bombing
Location Zion Square, leading onto Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem
Date July 4, 1975
Target Pedestrian shopping mall
Attack type
time bomb
Deaths 15
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Ahmad el-Sukar

On Friday, July 4, 1975, a refrigerator that had five kilograms of explosives packed into its sides exploded on Zion Square, a main square leading to Ben Yehuda Street and Jaffa Road. Fifteen people were killed and 77 injured in the attack. Ahmad el-Sukar, who was responsible for placing the bomb, was released from Israeli prison in 2003 as a gesture to Arafat.

On November 13, 1975, an explosive charge went off near Cafe Naveh on Jaffa Road, near the pedestrian mall. Seven people were killed and 45 injured.


On May 3, 1976, Thirty-three passers-by were injured when a booby-trapped motor scooter exploded at the corner of Ben Yehuda and Ben Hillel Streets. Among those injured was the Greek consul in Jerusalem and his wife. The following day, on the eve of Independence Day, the municipality organized an event at the site of the attack, under the slogan: "Nevertheless."[5]


On January 1, 1979, a car bomb was found opposite Cafe Atara on the pedestrian mall and was neutralized about half an hour before it was to have blown up. On March 24, 1979, one person was killed and 13 people were injured when an explosive charge blew up in a trash can in Zion Square.


1997 Ben Yehuda Street Bombing
Location Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem
Date September 4, 1997
Target Pedestrian shopping mall
Attack type
suicide bombers
Deaths 5 (+ 3 suicide bombers)
Perpetrators Hamas

On September 4, 1997, three Hamas suicide bombers simultaneously blew themselves up on the pedestrian mall, killing 5 Israelis. The bombing was carried out by Palestinians from the village of Asira al-shamaliye.[6]

Three 14-year old girls were killed in the attack: Sivann Zarka, Yael Botvin and Smadar Elhanan.[7] Elhanan was the daughter of peace activist Nurit Peled-Elhanan and the granddaughter of Israeli general and politician Mattityahu Peled. The family of Yael Botvin, a U.S. citizen, filed a lawsuit in the United States against the Islamic Republic of Iran.[8]

A default judgment of $251 million in compensatory and punitive damages was awarded to the relatives of Americans killed in the attack. There were few assets of the Iranian government in the United States following the judgment. The plaintiffs threatened to seize valuable Persian artifacts located in Chicago museums and sell them for proceeds, leading to the Chicago's Persian heritage crisis, as well as suing the account of the Bank Melli Iran in the Bank of New York, but having the United States Department of Justice speak as amicus curiae in support of Bank Melli, advising that the bank had no responsibility for turning the funds over, resulted in a ruling against the students.[9]

On December 2, 2013, five U.S. families who were victims of the Iran-backed suicide bombing have been awarded $9 million in federal court.[10]


2001 Ben Yehuda Street Bombings
Part of the Second Intifada militancy campaign
Location Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem
Date December 1, 2001
Target Pedestrian shopping mall, responding paramedics
Attack type
suicide bombers and a car bomb
Deaths 11 (+ 2 suicide bombers)
Non-fatal injuries

On December 1, 2001 two suicide bombers detonated themselves on Ben Yehuda Street, followed by a car bomb set to go off as paramedics arrived. Thirteen people were killed, including a number of soldiers out of uniform, and 188 were injured. Hamas claimed responsibility,[11] stating that it was in retaliation for the killing of senior Hamas militant Mahmud Abu Hanoud. A Hamas spokesman in Gaza stated that these bombings did not assuage its lust for vengeance and that it would carry out further bombings.[12][13]


  • Assaf Avitan, 15 [1]
  • Michael Moshe Dahan, 21 [2]
  • Ya'akov Danino, 17 [3]
  • Yosef El-Ezra, 18 [4]
  • Sgt. Nir Haftzadi, 19 [5]
  • Yuri (Yoni) Korganov, 20 [6]
  • Golan Turgeman, 15 [7]
  • Guy Vaknin, 19 [8]
  • Adam Weinstein, 14 [9]
  • Moshe Yedid-Levy, 19 [10]
  • Ido Cohen, 17 (died of his wounds on December 8) [11]

Non-lethal attacks

  • September 8, 1971: A grenade was thrown into the entrance of Cafe Alno on Ben Yehuda Street. The grenade did not explode and there were no injuries.
  • December 12, 1974: An explosive device went off in Ben Yehuda Street. Thirteen people were injured lightly to moderately.
  • April 9, 1976: A car bomb was dismantled on Ben Yehuda Street shortly before it was to have exploded.
  • May 2, 1981: A police sapper was moderately injured by an explosive charge that had been placed in a trash can near Cafe Alno.
  • August 15, 1984: A car bomb was discovered on Ben Yehuda Street and defused about 10 minutes before it was to have exploded. In the car were about 12 kilograms of explosives and another three kilograms of iron nails.


  1. Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, 'O Jerusalem'.History Book Club. 1972. pages 191-195
  2. Dov Joseph, 'The Faithful City - The siege of Jerusalem, 1948'. Simon and Schuster, New York. 1960. Library of Congress number: 60-10976. page 37. 'it was possible ... (that the) drivers (were) from the more than two hundred deserters who had already joined the Arab force' (as opposed to being officially sanctioned by the British Army).
  3. The Scotsman, Tuesday February 24th [year missing] Jerusalem,(Monday)
  4. Collins/Lapierre. page 192. Names the 'young man in the turret' of the leading armoured car as Azmi Djaouni, and states that Brown and Madison had 'two comrades'. They name the bomb maker as Fawzi el Kutub.
  5. A Short History of Terror, Haaretz
  6. Democracy Now! | "The Dominion of Death": An Israeli Mother Who Lost Her 13-Year Old Daughter in a Suicide bombing Speaks Out Against Israel
  7. The Bombing, a documentary film on the 1997 Ben Yehuda Street bombing
  8. Botvin v. Islamic Republic of Iran
  9. U.S. Helps Iranian Bank Withdraw, Then Seeks To Freeze Funds, Josh Gerstein, The New York Sun, November 9, 2007
  10. Fagen, Cynthia (2 December 2013). "Victims in Iran-backed Bombing Awarded Millions". Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  12. Israeli blunder kills two children, The Guardian, December 11, 2001.
  13. Bombers leave Arafat facing toughest battle, The Guardian, December 3, 2001.

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