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Thursday, July 19, 2012 | return to: news & features, international


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Israeli dead flown home after Bulgarian bus attack; suicide bomber identified

by jta staff

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The names of the five people killed in the deadly attack on Israelis tourists in Bulgaria were released as Bulgarian media offered details of the alleged bomber.

The five Israelis killed were announced as Amir Menashe, 27; Itzik Kolengi, 27; Maor Harush, 26; Elior Priess, 26 and Kochava Shriki, 42. The bodies were set to arrive in Israel July 19 in the evening.

Meanwhile, Bulgarian media identified the bomber as Mehdi Ghezali 36, a Swedish citizen who had been held in Guantanamo Bay for two years as a suspected Al-Qaida operative.

The deadly incident occurred around 5 p.m. July 18 at Sarafovo International Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, when one of three buses carrying Israeli tourists exploded, killing at least five people and injuring at least 33. Nine people reportedly were missing.

Survivors of the terror attack on the Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, returning to Israel with the help of the Israeli Air Force on July 19.   photo/jta-flash90-yossi zeliger
Survivors of the terror attack on the Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, returning to Israel with the help of the Israeli Air Force on July 19. photo/jta-flash90-yossi zeliger
President Shimon Peres said in response to the attack that Israel will “locate and act against terror all over the world,” as the wounded and dead arrived in Israel.

Two planes carrying the wounded Israelis landed in Israel on July 19 at approximately 3:30 p.m. local time. After landing, 33 passengers were sent to hospitals near the airport or near their homes. A third plane has brought home the 70 Israelis who escaped injury in the attack.

Brig.-Gen. Itzik Kreis, head of the Israeli Defense Forces Medical Corps, said that the wounded returning to Israel were “less seriously hurt than we expected.”

Two of those wounded in the attack remained hospitalized in Sofia, Bulgaria, with one in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Kreis said that victims “got very good medical care in Bulgaria.” He said that injuries suffered in the bus bombing were similar to injuries caused by bus bombings in Israel.

“This was a bloody attack against civilians going on vacation. Many of them lost their lives, others were wounded for no reason, for no purpose. They were attacked for the simple and unacceptable reason that they were Jewish or Israeli,” Peres said.

Smoke rises from the Sarafovo Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, after a July 18 terror attack on an Israeli tour bus.   photo/jta-burgasinfo
Smoke rises from the Sarafovo Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, after a July 18 terror attack on an Israeli tour bus. photo/jta-burgasinfo
“We will not forget, we will not ignore and we will not give up. Israel will locate and act against terror all over the world. We have the capabilities for it and are committed to act. We have the ability to silence and incapacitate the terror organizations. Anywhere in the world where it is possible we shall build friendship and anywhere in the world where it is necessary we will chase murderous terrorists. We will uproot terror both near and far.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that of the seven dead, five were Israelis, one was the bus driver and one the suicide bomber.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel has concrete information that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group carried out the attack.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry released video footage of the man identified as the suicide bomber.

The bomber was dressed like a tourist and carried a fake Michigan driver’s license, Novinite.com reported. He reportedly had hung out for more than an hour near the three buses slated to take the Israeli tourists to their hotel.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said that during a meeting held about a month ago, Mossad representatives did not warn Bulgarian officials of the possibility of a terror attack, the Sofia News Agency reported.

Israeli ZAKA emergency rescue team examining the remains of the bus at the scene of the terrorist attack in Bulgaria.  photo/jta-flash90-dano monkotovic
Israeli ZAKA emergency rescue team examining the remains of the bus at the scene of the terrorist attack in Bulgaria. photo/jta-flash90-dano monkotovic
Plevneliev stressed that Bulgarian authorities took all appropriate measures to protect Israeli tourists.

Security sources said that there was no intelligence indicating that Israelis traveling in the area might fall prey to terror attacks.

Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov reiterated on July 19 that Bulgarian officials had received no warning of an imminent attack on Israeli or Jewish targets.

“Yesterday’s attack in Bulgaria was perpetrated by Hezbollah, Iran’s leading terrorist proxy.  This attack was part of a global campaign of terror carried out by Iran and Hezbollah,”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said July 19 in a statement. “This terror campaign has reached a dozen countries on five continents.  The world’s leading powers should make it clear that Iran is the country that stands behind this terror campaign.  Iran must be exposed by the international community as the premiere terrorist-supporting state that it is.  And everything should be done to prevent Iran, the world’s most dangerous regime, from developing the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

“Israel is a strong country and the people of Israel are a strong people.  We’ll continue to fight against the terrorists and to exact a heavy price from those who support them,” Netanyahu concluded.

Ynetnews.com contributed to this report.


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