BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 17:14 GMT
Israel bombing leaves town in fear
By Martin Patience
BBC News, Dimona

Moshe Malak, 4 February 2008
Moshe Malak's life flashed before his eyes when he saw the device
Moshe Malak knelt down and opened the injured man's coat. It was then that he saw the unexploded suicide belt.

"All my life passed in a few seconds," Mr Malak said.

"I knew he could explode at any time. I knew he could push the button at anytime. I shouted at everyone to clear away."

Earlier, the 36-year-old lawyer had been sitting in his office when he heard a large explosion from the city's shopping centre.

A Palestinian suicide bomber had detonated his explosives, killing one Israeli civilian and injuring several others.

Rushing to the scene, Mr Malak saw one man lying motionless with blood trickling from behind his ear.

Second bomber

It was a second suicide bomber who had apparently been injured in the initial blast and had then failed to detonate his explosives.

Israeli police shot the failed bomber four times in the head.

Monday's suicide bombing was Israel's first for more than a year, and the first to target Dimona.

The southern Israeli city is best known for being home to Israel's nuclear reactor.

Residents and politicians here expressed dismay that their city was targeted and insisted that the south of Israel was increasingly susceptible to attacks from Palestinian militants.

The last suicide bombing in Israel was also in the south of the country.

'Difficult day'

Previously, the major cities and towns in central Israel - such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - have been the preferred targets.

Map showing Dimona
If they can hit Dimona they can hit anywhere in Israel
Mayer Coen
Mayor of Dimona

Dimona's mayor, Mayer Coen, called Monday's bombing "very difficult for the city".

"Until now, Dimona was a city without problems," he said. "But now we must think carefully.

"If they can hit Dimona they can hit anywhere in Israel."

Many people here believe that the bombers slipped out of Gaza during the last two weeks when the territory's border was open with Egypt.

They accused the Israeli government of not doing enough to protect its citizens.

"In the Knesset [Israeli parliament] they do nothing to protect the people," said Shuki Sakuri, an unemployed 58-year-old. "They don't care about us."

'No-one is safe'

By mid-afternoon, the shopping area remained cordoned off. Emergency workers were still removing body parts from the scene and police on horseback marshalled a crowd of onlookers.

An Israeli woman injured in Monday's suicide bombing in Dimona is taken to hospital, 4 February 2008
Dimona residents wonder if they might be targeted again

Some teenagers had climbed onto the roofs of nearby buildings to get a better view.

Percante Shalom said that the bombing will change the city's relations with local Bedouin communities.

"We used to get on with Arabs," said the 45-year-old taxi driver. "But now we will suspect them all."

Mr Malak also said that the city would change.

"For sure everything will be different," he said. "I don't think anyone can feel safe in Israel anymore."

Police response to the bombing

Rare suicide bombing hits Israel
04 Feb 08 |  Middle East

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific