Gazans Celebrate Jerusalem Bus Bombing

Israeli firemen and emergency services check the remains of a burnt-out bus after extinguishing the flames following an explosion in Jerusalem on April 18, 2016.

The news of the bombing of a Jerusalem bus that left 21 people injured on Monday, including two critically, was met with jubilant responses in the Gaza Strip.

Militants handed out sweets to passersby in celebration of the “welcome retaliation against the crimes of the Israeli enemy.”

On social media, users launched the hashtag #bus_top_blown_off, which references a slogan coined by a former Hamas leader whom Israel assassinated exactly 12 years ago.

Users evoked Hamas’ mythical explosives expert, “the engineer” Yahye Ayyash, who masterminded some of the worst suicide bombings Israel has known until his assassination in 1996.

“We carry the Quran together with our guns,” wrote one anonymous user. “That’s what the engineer Ayyash taught us.” He attached a picture of the burnt bus and wrote: “The true meaning of joy.”

Moath wrote: “Our leader Rantissi used to say: Was the top blown off? It’s our operation then.”

Moath’s friends suspected that he was trying to score points for his organization, and asked: “Who is ‘we?’ ” They added: “The operation was carried out by a Palestinian, thank Allah, and it’s unfortunate that some people try to co-opt it. It was done solely for the benefit of Palestine.”

Equally jubilant, the Palestinian news agency Shehab posted a picture of the burnt bus and wrote: “Ayyash is not dead!”

Ayyash’s widow, who lives in the West Bank, also celebrated the attack. “They say Yahye is back and I ask myself whether he was ever gone,” she wrote on Facebook.

His spirit and expertise left their mark on history. He always loaded his devices with nails, and when I asked him why he replied: “If the explosion doesn’t kill them, the nails will.” God have mercy on your soul, you who taught the fighters what jihad is and how to make Israelis suffer. When the top of the bus was blown off, completely, we knew it was the job of our engineer, who is today revered by all. Yahye is smiling today, knowing his actions brought joy to every aching Palestinian.

Salma tweeted: “The blown top blew their mind.”

Mousa Abu Marzouk, Hamas’ deputy diplomatic leader, also weighed in: “This is the prettiest present we can give our courageous prisoners,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s our promise to do whatever we can to free you, our heroes.”

“The resistance in Palestine is the pride of our nation,” Montaser tweeted. “Allah bless the freedom fighters and the martyrs everywhere. They lead the nation with their blood.”