Eyewitness saw this huge fireball and then body parts

JERUSALEM — Tali Eliahu, 20, of Jerusalem, voiced the confusion many Israelis felt after the bloody twin suicide bombings Sunday.

"I was against the peace process in the beginning, but after [Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin's assassination I began to think that Rabin's way was the right way," she said. "Now, I don't know what to believe."

Sunday's scenes of carnage left many bystanders and the general public similarly confused and angered.

"I heard the explosion, looked up, and saw what looked like a body flying through the air," said Yitzhak Reuven, an Egged ticket-checker who was standing across the intersection.

"People were calling out, `Help me, help me,' and `I'm burning.' There were bodies and parts of bodies all over the place," Reuven said.

Michael Dan, on his way to a nearby bus stop when the explosion occurred, said "a cloud of yellow smoke rose out of the bus."

In much of central Jerusalem, life came to a virtual standstill as dozens of ambulances rushed to the scene almost as soon as the first blast occurred.

All main roads leading to the central bus station were sealed as rescue crews evacuated the injured and the dead. Rescue workers searched for victims in the twisted wreckage of the bus, while members of Chevra Kadisha, the ultra-religious burial society, combed the bus, the street, even tree branches for body parts. (According to Jewish law, all bodies, including dismembered parts, must be buried within 24 hours.)

The owner of a nearby bagel shop, David Oberman, went to the scene and found a 16-year-old boy.

"I found the boy lying on the pavement and I pulled him away from the bus, which was smoking. I carried him to an ambulance, and his wounds appeared superficial.

"He was in shock and couldn't open his eyes, but he was coherent. It was only later, after the doctors took X-rays, that we learned that he had shrapnel in his brain. His mother, who was sitting beside him, was sent to another hospital. I don't know her condition."

Before he accompanied the teenager to the hospital, Oberman said he saw two others in the ambulance. "One, a woman soldier, was burned and hysterical. The second, a young man, seemed to have third-degree burns over much of his body."

Even after the destroyed bus and other damaged cars and buses were removed from the scene three hours later, hundreds of people still milled about the Jerusalem bomb site.

Some set up makeshift shrines with pieces of twisted wreckage and lit memorial candles. Many others shouted anti-government slogans and called for an end to peace negotiations with the Palestinians. About 100 police prevented angry onlookers from spilling into the street.

Jerusalem Police Chief Arye Amit said a suicide bomber somewhere in the middle of the bus apparently set off the explosion. The roof was blown off and the bus was completely gutted.

At an army hitchhiking stand outside Ashkelon, a similar, smaller bomb went off 45 minutes later as scores of soldiers and civilians were waiting for rides, many discussing the news about the Jerusalem attack.

"I turned to my left and saw this huge fireball and then body parts," said eyewitness Yitzhak Zvilli.