JERUSALEM – It was not long after the gruff man with darting eyes demanded a cup of coffee at her restaurant that Revital Biton heard the blast.
In retrospect, the 29-year-old owner of Revital's World Class Pizza said Tuesday she wished she had called police when the jittery Arab man came in.
But she's not sure they could have prevented the bombing 30 minutes later in the shopping mall where she has her business. One woman was killed and 11 people were injured Monday in the attack in the southern Israeli town of Dimona — the first homicide bombing in more than a year.
According to her description of his clothing, her customer apparently was the bomber who successfully detonated his explosives. A second attacker, who did not approach the restaurant, was injured by the blast and his explosives belt never went off. An Israeli policeman later shot and killed him.
"Coffee, quick!" the bearded young man in a red coat demanded, Biton recounted. "He was tense, his eyes darting back and forth with worry," she said. "He looked strange to me. I suspected him a bit."
"When I told him he had to pay, he held out money," Biton said. "I said, 'Come on, sweetie, come in and take sugar.' As soon as he came inside, I stopped paying attention to him. I don't know whether he drank the coffee or not. Only half an hour later, when I heard the boom, did I realize what had happened and who he was."
Few outsiders pass through Dimona, and Biton says she recognizes the people who come into her restaurant. The nervous man was not a familiar face.
Biton's comments were published Tuesday in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. She confirmed the quotes in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from her restaurant, where she was back at work Tuesday. She would not elaborate, saying she was upset over the experience.
Describing her interaction with the bomber, Biton told Yediot Ahronot: "There were a few tense seconds" when she asked him to pay, but then he handed her the coins.
"I wish I had done something, like call the police," she told the AP. "But I didn't know he was a terrorist."