The mechanics of evil: Inside a terrorist bomb

The bombs that terrorists use are among the most evil weapons ever invented. The explosives are bad enough, but palestinians have chosen to add metal pieces to the bombs to increase their deadliness, and to deliberately wound as many Israelis as possible. These extras are manufactured in “metal shops” throughout Gaza and the West Bank, which is why you hear about the IDF firing missiles into “metal shops,” and see the owners bemoaning the loss of their factories and insisting they were not involved in the manufacture of bombs.

The mechanics of a terrorist bomb:

The explosive belt usually consists of several cylinders filled with explosive (de facto pipe bombs), or in more sophisticated versions with plates of explosive. The explosive is surrounded by a fragmentation jacket that produces the shrapnel responsible for most of the bomb’s lethality, effectively making the jacket a crude body-worn claymore mine. Once the vest is detonated, the explosion resembles an omnidirectional shotgun blast. The most dangerous and the most widely used shrapnel are steel ball bearings 3-7 mm in diameter. Other shrapnel material can be anything of suitable size and hardness, most often nails, screws, nuts, and thick wire. Shrapnel is responsible for about 90% of all casualties caused by this kind of device.

The metal shards do the most damage.

The main killing power of any bomb is not the explosion itself (the shock wave is rather small because of small quantity of explosives used) but the fragments of its jacket, which are launched in all directions by the explosion. In air force bombs and in many types of artillery shells the pieces are formed out of the steel casing, which is split into small pieces in an explosion.

In anti-personnel tank shells and in some kinds of artillery shells part of the internal payload is dedicated to shrapnel- such a shell is filled with several thousand of needles (“flechettes”). Sometimes these flechettes are made of plastic, which do not show up on x-rays. Palestinian terrorists realized this principle long ago and use it widely. More than 90% of the victims injured are hit by the bomb shrapnel.

The most widely used and the most dangerous shrapnel consists of ball bearings 3-7 millimeters in diameter. In the most severe terrorist acts – in the Delfinarium, Sbarro, in the banquet hall in Netania – the bombs of the suicide-bombers were filled with steel balls.

In an explosion, the balls are launched with such speed, that their power is close to a bullet’s. You could say that in an explosion the suicide-bomber shoots several hundred bullets in a single moment.

Aside from steel balls, nails, screws and so on, nuts and washers are also used. Nuts are easily glued together to form tiny plates that can be pressed in, or even tied by a tape to the plates of the explosive to hide it better. Likewise, nuts are also stringed on a thread or on a piece of wire, as shown on the photographs.

Israeli doctors have become so accustomed to suicide bombs, they have developed a trauma routine that made an American trauma surgeon wonder:

It certainly gives one pause, as an American living in a free, open, and safe society, to understand that the Israelis have dealt with suicide bombings long enough to have their national trauma registry reflect that fact.

This is what gave him pause:

Primary blast injury is caused by the rapid outward spread of the shock wave. Injury to gas-containing organs, such as perforation of the middle ear and blast lung injury (BLI) are most common (22.1% and 18.2% of victims, respectively). Of all patients with BLI, 82% of victims aboard buses and in semiconfined spaces will suffer from moderate and severe forms of BLI compared with 33% of victims in open spaces. S econdary blast injury is caused by penetrating missiles that are propelled by the blast wave. More than 85% of victims of suicide bombing attacks (SBA) suffer from penetrating shrapnel and debris, most commonly to the head. Tertiary blast injury results from a patient’s body being displaced by expanding gases. Burns are termed quaternary blast injury and are also notably more common after explosions inside confined spaces compared with open spaces (33.9% versus 5% of victims, respectively). The hallmark of injuries after an SBA is the combination of blunt injury, multiple penetrating injuries with extensive soft tissue damage, and burns. Half of all patients hospitalized will be seen in a trauma unit setting and the same proportion will be admitted to an intensive care unit. Victims of SBAs are more severely injured compared with other trauma victims. Typical injuries include penetrating injury to the head (55%), extremities (49%), and torso (40%), burns (27%), open fractures (22%), and BLI (18%).

Here is an article I have referenced before, which contains X-Rays of the victims of palestinian terrorist bombs.

Messing said one of the victims he saw while in Jerusalem had around 300 individual metallic fragments within his body. The metal fragments, measuring from millimeters to centimeters, were imbedded in the young man literally from head to toe, he said.

“Several of the fragments penetrated into his vital organs. He sustained a punctured colon, a collapsed lung, and a lacerated liver and kidney. I could actually feel the nails under his skin where they had burrowed and lodged,” Messing recalls.

Shrapnel is what killed Phillip Balhasan, who stayed alive long enough to realize his children had survived, and to hug them tightly before he collapsed.

But even this is not enough for the terrorists. They also soak the shrapnel in rat poison, because it causes hemorrhaging — victims may bleed to death before they can get to the hospital.

Remember all of this, when you hear the world tell Israel to “use restraint” in responding to this attack. Remember all of this, when you read about the innocent metal shop owners who insist their shops were only making nails and screws for construction purposes.

Remember all of this, when Israel is the nation that is demonized by the blind, hateful people who wear checked kaffiyehs at anti-war protests, and call Israel an “apartheid state” for building a separation barrier — to keep out the monsters who would use bombs like I have just described.

Remember this, when you look at the pictures of the results of the bombing, and notice the thousands of dents in the metal surrounding the bombing area — the mark of the ball-bearings and other metal shrapnel.

These are the people with whom the world sympathizes: Those who create and set off the bombs. Not the victims. The bombers.

And that’s the worst evil of all.

First-time visitors: There is much more on the main page.

Upate 4/22: Apparently, this post has been linked on various international link sites, including a British one. There is now an inundation of people who think I will post their anti-Israel rants. Read this post, A No Israel Bashing-Zone, and you will understand why your comment doesn’t appear. If you don’t like the policy, well, gee. Life’s tough.

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61 Responses to The mechanics of evil: Inside a terrorist bomb

  1. Robert says:


    First off its Palestinians not Pakistanis. Secondly, Israel takes great pains to minimize civilian arab casulties. They would rather take out strategic/leadership targets. Compare that with those suicide bombers. Again, you are talking comparing Apples to Oranges. Too bad you do not see it.

  2. Sully says:

    The more often I see everyone convinced that we are different and can be put into neat labelled boxes based on nationality, race, education, and social standing; the more I am convinced that essentially we are all the same.

    Whatever capacity they have do do evil so do we all.

    This fight has been going on so long I’m sure nobody knows what it was really about anymore.

  3. CommyShmommy says:

    Rat poison as a weapon is only effective in the only way it was used: in the news. Rat poison is neither an effective method of bleeding people via “soaked shrapnel” delivered by a “terrorist bomb” (it is primarily ingested (duh)) nor is it effective in the presence of the heat of that bomb. As you know, the incendiary nature of these bombs produces great temperatures and force – both would essentially neutralize or simply blow the poison off of any shrapnel. Which is why it’s only effective as propaganda.

    Also, I’m not for the terrorists, but a claymore mine is much more dangerous. A claymore mine is specifically laid out to achieve a near perfect semicircle formation of high speed shrapnel (ball bearings). These are routinely used by the US as an anti-infantry weapon, and have the capability to wipe out any number of troops simply in its blast radius – basically if you’re in the area and one goes, off, it’s gonna hurt.

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  5. Andy says:

    Sully, the moral relativism argument doesn’t hold. Even if I accepted that all humans have an equal capacity to do evil, if one group consistently refrains from those impulses, and another doesn’t, in what way are they then the same?

    As for the fight “going on so long I’m sure nobody knows what is was really about anymore”, you should take the opportunity to ask some folks. I’m sure a lot of people have opinions about what the fight is really about, and I’m sure that some of them are right. Remember, you’re talking about at least one civilzation that makes education and history a priority for all of its members.

  6. Johnnymerda says:

    In reply to Robert’s reply; a missed Typo on my part, everyone understood it and as usual, your the kettle calling the pot black, it’s not apples vs oranges. Until we learn to accept people for who they are without considering their “race, religion, and origin” there will always be war.

    Palistine and Israel have been fighting for thousands of years;
    Israel has been fighting for land to call to call their own; were they rightly feel it should be in their homeland, Palistinian’s don’t want to give up any of their land to another People. For this reason they distrust and hate the other and refuse to accept the other’s right to exist.

    Who’s to decide who’s right or wrong; or how one kills and mames the other, the world needs to find a way for the two sides to find resolution; not to justify one or the others actions.

    Until they both learn to accept the others right to believe in their chosen religion and work to be “One Nation” removing religion as a denominator, their war will contenue for another thousand years.

    And Robert; for your information, I do not live behind the protective curtains of the United States. I have lived overseas for over 30 years and am fully aware of the propaganda & tactics both sides use, there’s no such thing as “minimized civilian Arab casulties”. Killing is killing; and both sides justify any means it takes to accomplish their cause.

    You can’t even imagine what both sides have done to what you’re calling Civilians; there is no such word as “Civilians”, they are all “soldiers to the cause”, some use the power of the pen, some use a gun, some push a button for a missle and some strap a bomb to their body.

    Are you aware that all the Citizens of Switzerland are part of the Swiss Military? Mountains open up reviling anti arcraft guns, or walls open and out come Military aircraft that use highways as air-strips, chicken coops move to the side exposing radar dishes, and that “Civilians” as you would call them have their Military issued guns in their closets. Not bad for a Conuntry that proclaims impartiality and is against war. So please don’t profess “minimize civilian Arab casulties” to me.

  7. Palistine and Israel have been fighting for thousands of years;
    Israel has been fighting for land to call to call their own; were they rightly feel it should be in their homeland, Palistinian’s don’t want to give up any of their land to another People. For this reason they distrust and hate the other and refuse to accept the other’s right to exist.

    So let me see if I get this straight. The Israelis have been fighting the “palestinians” for thousands of years, and yet, Israelis are fighting for a land to call their own?

    Going by that logic, the current “palestinians” are the interlopers. When Rome renamed Judea “Palestine,” the “Palestinians” were Jews.

  8. JohnnyMerda says:

    History will tell us not all Palestinians were Jewish as not all Jewish are Palestinians. And the borders of Palestine today have nothing to do with those that once extended over most of the Middle East & Africa, there are a lot of countries that exist today which have carved their borders out of what was originally Palestine.

    That was why I said “We would also have to argue over why the Roman Empire is now just a small piece of land called Italy, or maybe we could waist time talking about Napoleon, or the Christian Crusades, or how about those American Indians invaded by all those cruel Europeans.”

    If they could put their Religious beliefs aside and become one Nation united within their borders they would become stronger for it. Until they come to terms with this neither will ever fully exist to quote an old American quote “united we stand, devided we fall”.

    Until they can look beyond the past and look into the future by accepting the one another they will never fully have control of their destiny.

    This is not some little school game when kids argue “he said”, “but she said”, “well he hit me first”. We are talking about “Human Lives” here people. We are talking about men, women, and children that when they go to bed at night they don’t know if they will wake up in the morning, or if the do; if they will live through the day.

    How can you possibly justify one side or the other; by doing this you only promote more killing. A sixteen year old boy strapped on a bomb and killed men, women, and children in the name of his faith; A helicopter pilot launched a missle into a crowd of demonstrators killing men, women and children in the name of his faith; “that just ain’t right”!

    When will you quit justifying this usless bloodshed in the name of your “Faith”? The “Hatfields and McCoys” until the last man stands?

  9. Robert says:

    Johnny, you need to do a serious historical study. THERE WAS NO PALESTINE EVER. Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Iudea to Palestina as a means to punish the Jews who revolted in the Bar Kochba revolt. GIVE ME the name of ANY Palestinian King or Palestinian Country (that was independent). Give me examples of Palestinian Currency. You cannot because it did not exist. Stop with your historical revisionism.

  10. JohnnyMerda says:

    You mean Judea (from the name Josephus; “a funny think happened to me on my way to work”, from what I am to understand the maps from A.D. 33 show Judea as part of Palistine and not Palistine, Roman Emperor Hadrian reigned A.D. 117-138 which is long before A.D. 33.

    But for the sake of argument; name me a king of Judea, Idomea, Samaria, Phoenecia or give “me” examples of Currency. Don’t confuse the definition of Country with Territory, Geografic Populace or Religion.In your words “Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Iudea to Palestina” is admitting is does exist?

    But even qualing the Jewish uprising by Hadrian is irrevelent to the discussion at hand; in the begining I said we could spend a lot of time on past history on what land actually belongs to who.

    A cute word “revisionism” isn’t that what all this is about in the first place “Revising Boarders, Zones and Authority”? I haven’t revised anything, I’m just stating the facts; the modern day Boarder is in place. And again at what point in history to you wish to return to decide who’s right or wrong?

    In my humble view; neither side is write or wrong, they are both fighting for the right to exist. And after thousands of years of doing it wrong; if the determination both sides use in their conquest for independence was used towards reconcile & peace the usless bloodshed would stop.

    And Robert; I need no history lesson from you, anyone can “google” a word(s) on the Internet, living it is something completely different. If you want to “google” something try googling “USO, Naples, Italy 1988”, pal I was there. I know what terrorism is, I’ve lived it and I know what is to see innocent Civilians killed in the name of anothers belief.

  11. Johnny: Read this.

    Now stop. You’re done here.

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