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Israel frees Palestinian-Jordanian bus bomber after 20 years

Published: Updated:

A Palestinian-Jordanian man jailed in Israel after planting a bomb on a bus that wounded 13 civilians in 2000 was released on Tuesday after serving his 20-year sentence.

Abdullah Abu Jaber, 46, was welcomed with flowers and shouts of joy by his family after he entered Jordan across the Sheikh Hussein Bridge.

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Jaber, originally from Jordan’s Baqaa refugee camp, hid a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv on December 28, 2000, detonating it remotely and wounding 13 people. He was arrested the following day.

“Twenty years ago, I made a journey not for tourism, but of resistance,” Jaber said, draped in Jordanian and Palestinian keffiyeh headscarves.

“I have done my duty as a Palestinian, because it is the land of Palestine and we must liberate it as quickly as possible.”

According to Israeli charge sheet, Jaber was recruited by the armed wing of Fatah in Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, and had entered Israel illegally.

He called for rival Palestinian factions Fatah and the Hamas to end their long division and form a common front against Israel.

“I hope that the Palestinians will be united again,” he said, adding the differences extended to Palestinians inside Israeli prisons.

Yunis Abu Sil, a member of the Palestinian National Council, the PLO’s legislative arm, said he was “very happy” and called Jaber a “hero.”

Around half of Jordan’s 10 million-strong population is of Palestinian origin, including some 2.2 million refugees registered with the United Nations.