Two Suicide Bombers Strike, Killing 3 in Netanya
One, disguised as an Israeli soldier, killed three Israelis in a crowded Netanya market on Sunday. Over 50 other people were injured.
The other was stopped at a checkpoint in Northern Israel Monday morning when he detonated his explosives, killing himself and wounding a policeman.
The attacks were the first since May 8, when Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat ordered his security forces to stop “all terror attacks against Israeli civilians,” saying they hurt the Palestinian cause.
Members of both the secular Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the militant group Hamas claimed responsibility.
The Palestinian leadership issued a statement declaring “full condemnation for the terror attack that targeted Israeli civilians.”
There was no immediate Israeli reaction, although some conservative members of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s cabinet are already calling for military action in the Gaza Strip.
In Washington, Vice President Dick Cheney said Arafat could not be expected to stop all attacks. However he called on Arafat to reign in “elements of Palestinian organizations that come under his control, and there he clearly has the capacity to act.”
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the attack underscored the need for the Palestinians to create “a unified security apparatus that can be accountable and can deal with issues of terrorism.”
In Beirut, Lebanon, a car bomb killed the son of Palestinian guerrilla leader Ahmed Jibril Monday. Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command split from the main organization several years ago. Popular Front officials placed the blame for Monday’s attack squarely on Israel.
“Israel is behind any bomb attack on any Lebanese, Arab or Palestinian,” Abu Rushdi, a PFLP-GC official, told Reuters. “Our response is to continue our struggle against Israel.”
Israel has denied the charges.
The main PFLP, which opposes all peace negotiations with Israel, claimed responsibility for the Netanya attack and for an arms shipment Israel seized a year ago.
In the West Bank, Israeli troops have pulled out of key Palestinian cities, but they maintain the system of checkpoints and travel curbs that Palestinians call humiliating.
Israeli troops have also continued the policy of raiding towns, arresting and sometimes killing suspected militants in an ongoing operation that Israel says is essential to its self-defense. Troops entered Tulkarm and Hebron Sunday night, detaining two men.