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Suicide Attacks Kill 26 in Jerusalem, Haifa

The militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombings. It said they were to avenge Israel’s November 23 killing of Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, a military leader regarded as a master bombmaker. 

The attacks began Saturday night when two almost simultaneous blasts killed 10 in a Jerusalem pedestrian mall. The bombings left another 150 wounded, 17 of them critically.

Less than 12 hours later, a suicide bomber boarded a bus in Haifa and then blew it up. Israeli authorities said at least 16 people were killed and 40 wounded in the attack.

The bombings, the worst in months, drew intsant and intense international condemnation.

In Washington, President Bush met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. During the meeting, Mr. Bush called on Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat to crack down on militants in their territory.

“This is a moment where the advocates for peace in the Middle East must rise up and fight terror,” President Bush said. “Chairman Arafat must do everything in his power to find those who murdered innocent Israelis and bring them to justice.”

Arafat did call a meeting of the Palestinian Authority to respond to the attacks. According to reports, dozens of militants were arrested by the Palestinian police.

“The Palestinian leadership has decided to declare a state 
of emergency throughout the Palestinian territory,” the 
statement said, according to a translation from Arabic 
distributed by the Palestine Media Center.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the U.S. recognized the difficulty that Arafat would have cracking down on Hamas and other militants, but that the time had come for the Palestinian Authority to assert control.

“[Arafat] can’t control every single Palestinian zealot or somebody who wishes to commit suicide, but he has to exercise more of the control that we believe he has,” Powell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld more pointedly criticized the Arafat’s efforts.

“He is not a particularly strong leader,” Rumsfeld said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I don’t know that he has good control over the Palestinian situation. He has not ever delivered anything for the Palestinian people. … His record is not particularly impressive.”

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