Palestinians may have set bomb timers by wrong clock

September 11, 1999|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

JERUSALEM -- Israelis and Palestinians may be forging ahead on the big issues of peace, but they still disagree on one of the most mundane fundamentals: What time is it?

Israeli time fell back last weekend, while the Palestinians, like most of the rest of the world, remained on Daylight-Saving Time.

One theory being explored by Israeli security experts is that the planned car bombings last Sunday in Tiberius and Haifa may have gone awry because the terrorists were confused about the time. The experts suspect the bombs and timing devices were prepared by West Bank Palestinians, who set them to go off shortly after 6 p.m., Palestinian time.

But the people who were responsible for planting the bombs are believed to have been residents of a village inside Israel, for whom 6 p.m. was an hour later. The theory is that the three Arab terrorists thought they had time to park the cars and get away safely before the bombs went off. They failed to take into account the time change the day before.

The Haifa bomb exploded in a parking lot, just after 5 p.m., killing the suspected bomber. The Tiberius bomb exploded about the same time and killed the two terrorists inside the car. There was only one serious injury of an Israeli, a 73-year-old woman.

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