Bomb Rips Through Central Jerusalem, Killing 19greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
08/09 11:21 Bomb Rips Through Central Jerusalem, Killing 19 (Update4) By Joshua Mitnick
Jerusalem, Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- A suicide bomber killed 19 people, including six children, in Jerusalem's central shopping district, in the deadliest attack in the city since the start of 10 months of Israeli-Palestinian violence, Israel Radio said, citing medical officials.
The bomb, which injured about 100, exploded at about 2 p.m. at the entrance to a Sbarro Inc. pizza restaurant at the intersection of King George and Jaffa streets, an area usually bustling with pedestrians. The bomber was identified as Hussein Omar Abu Amsha, 23, by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television.
``Israel must respond,'' Israeli Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin said on public television. ``The Palestinians must understand that they will have a price to pay for the policy of their leaders.''
The explosion is the latest in a string of attacks that have derailed a cease-fire brokered by the U.S. two months ago. An Israeli retaliation is almost certain following a recent decision by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet to respond to all Palestinian attacks, said television analysts.
Islamic Jihad, a radical Palestinian group, said it was behind the attack.
``This is the first of many such operations,'' said Abduallah al-Shami, of Islamic Jihad, speaking on Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is scheduled to meet with his deputies and leaders of opposition parties later this evening, in talks that were scheduled before the bombing.
``This operation is the result of the crimes of Sharon against the Palestinian people,'' said Palestinian minister Yasser Abed Rabbo.
Witnesses said the restaurant was filled with children on their summer vacation eating lunch with parents.
An Israeli soldier also was shot dead near the West Bank town of Tulkarem today, Agence France-Presse said. Israel tanks opened fire on Palestinian positions, the agency said.
Israeli security forces have been on alert, anticipating retaliation after eight Palestinians were killed in an Israeli helicopter attack on an office of the Hamas militant group in the West Bank town of Nablus. Israeli officials said the attack, whose fatalities included two children, was aimed at stopping militants who were planning bombings.
The attack drew condemnation from the United Nations and the U.S.. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said through a spokesman he ``deplores all acts of terror and is deeply disturbed by the loss of life.''
President George Bush issued a statement saying he ``strongly deplores'' the attack, AFP said.
``Egypt expresses its condemnation of the bomb explosion in Jerusalem,'' as it does of all violence against Palestinian and Israeli civilians, said Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher.
The attack is the second in the center of an Israeli city this week. On Sunday, a Palestinian gunmen injured 10 civilians and soldiers in a drive-by shooting near the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
Hours after today's attack, police and ambulances sped away from the scene of the bombing after getting reports of an explosion at Jerusalem's central bus station, only a kilometer away. It turned out to be a false alarm, as the noise came from a tire exploding on a parked bus.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 09, 2001
Suicide bomb celebration in refugee camps
Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon rejoiced with celebratory rounds of gunfire and dancing following the Jerusalem explosion.
In Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon's largest refugee camp, men performed the traditional foot-stomping dabkeh folk dance.
Women and children offered Arabic sweets and juice to passers-by and said "Mabrouk!" to one another, which is Arabic for congratulations.
Guerrillas in the camp, on the outskirts of the southern port city of Sidon, celebrated by firing machine guns into the air for more than an hour.
"Our people will not be able to liberate our land and establish a Palestinian state except through such suicide bombings," said Colonel Mounir Makdah, who heads a dissident faction of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah movement in Ein el-Hilweh.
Khaled Aref, the camp's Fatah chief, said: "Blood begets blood. The criminal Sharon has worked toward war, not peace, ever since coming to office."
Sporadic gunfire was also heard in refugee camps in Beirut's mainly Shiite Muslim suburbs after news of the bombing.
Story filed: 18:56 Thursday 9th August 2001
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), August 09, 2001.
The end draweth nigh for the P.A.
-- Steve McClendon (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 09, 2001.
Israeli Forces Seize Palestinian HQ Friday August 10, 2001 2:30 pm
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli police took over the Palestinians' political headquarters in disputed east Jerusalem early Friday, and warplanes flattened a West Bank security post, in retaliation for a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem pizzeria that killed 15 and wounded nearly 100.
The raid of the Orient House, the PLO headquarters in the city, was Israel's most direct challenge yet of Palestinian claims to east Jerusalem as a future capital. Jerusalem's future was the most contentious issue in peace talks that collapsed earlier this year.
Israel said the takeover of the Orient House and nine Palestinian Authority offices in Abu Dis, a Palestinian neighborhood abutting the city, was a message to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat that he would not make political gains through violence. Israel said it also wanted to prod Arafat to arrest suspected militants.
Thursday's suicide bombing was claimed by the Islamic militant group Hamas, one of Arafat's political rivals, but Israel held Arafat indirectly responsible, saying he has done nothing to prevent attacks on Israelis.
It was not immediately clear how long Israeli forces would remain in the seized buildings. Seven Orient House guards were arrested.
Arafat accused Israel of carrying out a step-by-step plan to recapture Palestinian areas. ``This attack is directed against the Palestinian people and is part of an Israeli escalation,'' Arafat said during a tour of a police station in the West Bank town of Ramallah that was destroyed by Israeli F-16 warplanes overnight.
Several victims of the suicide bombing were buried Friday. Among them were Judith Shoshana Greenbaum, 31, a pregnant school teacher from Passaic, N.J., and five members of a family of Jewish immigrants from Holland - Mordechai Schijveschuurder, 44, his wife, Tzirli, and three of their children, ages 2, 4 and 14. The family lived in the West Bank settlement of Talmon.
More than 560 people on the Palestinian side and more than 150 on the Israeli side have been killed since hostilities broke out in September.
Arafat spokesman Nabil Aburdeneh said the Israeli raids meant that Israel was canceling previous understandings with the Palestinians. ``We call on the international community to declare the Israeli government responsible for this escalation,'' he said.
The Palestinians seek control of east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Israel has ruled all of the city since capturing the eastern sector in the 1967 Mideast war.
In the past, hard-line Israeli governments threatened to close down the Orient House, saying a Palestinian political presence in east Jerusalem violated interim peace accords, but never acted on the warnings, apparently for fear of disrupting negotiations and creating a major confrontation with the Palestinians.
Palestinian spokesman Hanan Ashrawi said Palestinians had been given assurances by Israeli peace negotiators that the Orient House and other institutions would not be harmed.
At about 2 a.m. Friday, Israeli police raided the building, a former hotel, and hoisted the Israeli flag over the entrance. Before the raid, a large Palestinian flag had been flying over the building. Police officers, some on horseback, blocked nearby streets, and scuffled with several dozen demonstrators trying to push through police barricades. Eight people were arrested.
Government spokesman Dore Gold said the Orient House raid was a message to Arafat that supporting violence would bring him political losses, not gains.
Israeli tanks and bulldozers also leveled a Palestinian police outpost in the Gaza Strip. The tanks fired two shells and briefly exchanged gunfire with Palestinian gunmen before bulldozers destroyed the post. No one was injured.
Thursday's bombing at the crowded Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem was the second deadliest attack in the more than 10 months of fighting, and few Israelis were in the mood for restraint afterward.
``We are in a war,'' Jerusalem's Mayor Ehud Olmert said. ``We will act together with the government of Israel to reach every one of those who is responsible for terror, to hit them and kill them.''
President Bush said Arafat ``must condemn this horrific terrorist attack, (and) act now to arrest and bring to justice those responsible.''
Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that the Palestinians had not done enough to stop violence. ``It's awfully hard to sit here and judge the Israeli reaction and be critical of it when this happens in one of their major cities,'' Biden said during a trip to China.
Concealing a bomb in a bag, the assailant entered the packed restaurant on the corner of two of the city's busiest downtown streets, Jaffa and King George, and set off the explosive, spraying shrapnel in a deafening blast.
Both Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group initially claimed responsibility. However, the man Islamic Jihad named as the bomber later surfaced at his West Bank home.
Hamas said the bombing was the work of Izzedine al-Masri, 23, calling the attack revenge for an Israeli helicopter raid last week that killed eight people in Nablus, including two Hamas leaders.
In the West Bank town of Ramallah, several hundred Palestinians celebrated the bombing, marching and firing weapons in the air.
Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas leader, was defiant. ``We are going ahead in our struggle against the aggression and oppression of the Israelis,'' he said.
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), August 10, 2001.