In a television interview last month, Ahlam Tamimi explained her role in planning the deadly 2001 bombing of a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem and expressed the disappointment she felt when initial reports claimed only 3 Israelis were killed in the explosion.
“Afterwards, when I took the bus, the Palestinians around Damascus gate (Jerusalem) were all smiling. You could sense that everybody was happy,” she said. “When I got on the bus, nobody knew that it was me who who had led [the suicide bomber to the target]. I was feeling quite strange because I had left Izz Al-Din (the bomber) behind, but inside the bus, they were all congratulating one another.”
Tamimi received 16 life sentences for planning and helping to execute the August 2001 bombing in Jerusalem, which killed 16 Israelis, however she was released as part of the deal that freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from captivity under Hamas in 2011.
“But first, let me tell you about the the gradual rise in the number of casualties,” she said in an Arabic interview on Al-Aqsa TV which has been translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “While I was on the bus and everybody was congratulating each other, they said on the radio that there had been a martyrdom attack at the Sbarro restaurant and that three people were killed. I admit that I was a bit disappointed because I had hoped for a larger toll. Yet when they said ‘three dead’, I said, ‘Allah be praised.’”
Tamimi went on to explain the joy she felt when the death toll continued to rise.
“Two minutes later, they said on the radio that the number had increased to five. I wanted to hide my smile, but I just couldn’t. Allah be praised, it was great. As the number of dead kept increasing, the passengers were applauding.”