JERUSALEM — The young man making his way along the Street of the Prophets was dressed in a skullcap, white shirt and dark trousers — the sober garb of an Orthodox Jew, apparel that would scarcely draw a glance in the center of Jerusalem.
But to sharp-eyed passers-by, the man’s demeanor was all wrong. His movements were jerky, nervous; he was almost running. As two Israeli paramilitary policemen confronted him, he smiled, turned away — and detonated explosives in a sack strapped to his back.
Even in bomb-hardened Jerusalem — where the previous 36 hours had produced no fewer than four blasts, none causing serious injury — the gruesome aftermath of this attack had the power to shock.
The force of the explosion catapulted the bomber’s severed head over a high wall and into the schoolyard of Lycee Francais, a French-language international school, as children were arriving for class. Scraps of mangled flesh were embedded in the cracks of the former convent’s high stone wall.
Bystanders, including at least one arriving schoolgirl, were pelted with bloody bits of the bomber’s body. Others suffered shrapnel wounds from nails and screws packed into the bomb.
Twenty people were injured, including the two paramilitary border policemen.
Police quickly covered the head with an upended trash can, but not before some of the children saw it. Classes went ahead despite the bombing, and the Jerusalem municipality offered psychologists to talk to the children. Cleaners used powerful jets of steam and water to clean the yellowed stone walls and courtyard.
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