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Zion Square Refrigerator Bombing

(July 4, 1975)

A Palestinian terrorist exploded a booby-trapped refrigerator in Zion Square in the center of Jerusalem on July 4, 1975, killing 15 people and wounding 77. A Jewish passerby, Shabtai Levi, with no idea what was inside, helped the terrorist hoist the refrigerator onto the sidewalk.

Among the dead were Rivka Ben-Yitzhak, 35, an American citizen, and her husband, Michael, who left behind two small children. The Ben-Yitzhak Award, presented annually to an outstanding children's book illustrator by the Israel Museum, was established in their memory. Daoud Khoury, an Arab accountant at the King David Hotel, was also among those killed in the attack.

The PLO claimed responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses who managed to see the vehicle transporting the refrigerator bomb were able to provide details on the vehicle, except for its license plate. Based on witnesses’ testimony the perpetrator’s facial profile was produced. The Shin Bet solved the case more than a year after the explosion following interrogation of several terror activists from Fatah.

An Arab-American, Ahmed Jabara, planned the attack, but did not carry it out. He left for Jordan on the day of the attack and later went to Syria to report the attack to his superiors.

Bassem Tabila, an explosives expert, and another operative transferred the refrigerator to Jerusalem, where he unloaded it using the transport cart and placed it at Zion Square. Tabila also escaped to Jordan and later went to Damascus where he trained Fatah recruits how to use explosives. He later moved to Jordan and was denied entry to Israel after the Palestinian Authority had asked for him to be allowed to return.



Jabara was arrested and put on trial before a military court in June 1977. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison and an additional 30 years. He was released in 2003, after having served 27 years as a goodwill gesture to the PA before the Aqaba summit. Yasser Arafat subsequently appointed him adviser on prisoner affairs.

Jabara died of a heart attack in Ramallah on July 17, 2013, at age 78.

Sources: “Zion Square refrigerator bombing,” Wikipedia.
“The Refrigerator Bomb Explosion Case in Jerusalem,” Israel Security Agency.

Photos: Israel Security Agency.