This comes a day after Palestinian leaders settled their differences over the formation of a new government in an effort to move toward implementing an internationally-backed “road map” to peace in the region.
A lone bomber attacked a commuter train station in the town of Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv, at around 7:15 a.m. local time.
The Associated Press said a security guard tried to stop the bomber at the entrance to the station and was killed instantly by the explosion. Other security guards and commuters standing nearby were wounded by shrapnel.
“The explosion tore light fixtures and wires from above the entrance of the station. Blood, glass and scraps of flesh were scattered across the sidewalk and front steps,” reported AP correspondent Jason Keyser.
A militant splinter group of Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah party claimed responsibility for the attack, the AP reported.
On Wednesday, Arafat acquiesced to international pressure to approve the cabinet of his newly appointed prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas. The main point of contention between Arafat and Abbas had been the selection of a new head of the Palestinian security forces.
Abbas chose Muhammad Dahlan, the former security chief in the Gaza Strip, for the position, while Arafat wanted his close aide and current security chief Hani al-Hassan to keep the job. Arafat relented after assurances that the new government would consult him on security matters.
Leaders of the so called “Quartet,” the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia — strong backers of the road map to peace — reportedly supported Dahlan because they believe he will be more effective in cracking down on terrorist groups in Palestinian areas.
U.S. officials said the road map, which calls for concessions from both sides involved in the conflict, will be published when the Palestinian parliament formally approves the new Cabinet.
Abbas will also be invited to talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon if his Cabinet is approved by the parliament, Sharon adviser Raanan Gissin told the AP. The Sharon government had refused to deal with Arafat, who they accused of helping foment terrorism.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled, responding to news of Thursday’s attack, said Abbas would have to “put an end to terror because terror and violence cannot go hand in hand with negotiations.”
News services also reported Thursday that two young Palestinian men were shot and killed after youths and Israeli soldiers clashed near the West Bank town of Ramallah. The AP said some youth were throwing rocks at soldiers. A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces told the AP that its soldiers had been involved in a clash and some soldiers fired because they feared for their lives.