As the morning sunlight crept over the limestone walls of Jerusalem’s old city, two young Americans flagged down a bus and got on. It was 6:45 a.m., February 25, 1996 -- an otherwise ordinary Sunday in Israel. Sara Duker and Matthew Eisenfeld settled into their seats as the door closed on Jerusalem’s Number 18 bus which would take them across the spine of this ancient city of hills.
On this day, they had risen earlier than normal in the hope of spending the day touring an archeological site. After a few more stops, their bus turned on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road and rolled up a slight hill and stopped again. A young man carrying an Israeli army backpack got on. No one paid much attention to him, witnesses said later. Young men with army backpacks are a common sight in Jerusalem, especially early on Sundays, as soldiers, who had gone home for the weekend, returned to their military bases. But this man was not an Israeli soldier. As the bus door closed, he reached into his knapsack and pulled a cord – and set off a huge bomb. Sara and Matthew died instantly. So did 21 others, including the bomber. Their grieving families set out to get answers and justice. Eventually, they discovered that Iran had financed the bombing that killed their children as well as others that preceded it. The families eventually filed a lawsuit in U.S. courts against Iran, asking for money from Iranian assets that had been frozen in the U.S. since the late 1970s. They won a judgment of $327 million against the Iranian assets. However, the U.S. government blocked their efforts to collect damages.