Initial reports indicated that someone planted the bomb in the Frank Sinatra International Student Center cafeteria, but police said they are still investigating the possibility it was a suicide attack.
“We’re talking about an explosive device, apparently not a suicide bomber. It is being checked,” said Jerusalem’s Deputy Police Chief Ilan Franco.
The militant Hamas movement, whose military leader was killed on July 22 in a deadly Gaza City missile strike, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Arab satellite television network al-Jazeera.
The bombing occurred in an area where Jewish, Arab and international students often gather to eat and socialize. There was no initial word on the nationality or religion of those killed in the blast.
The university, which is located in eastern Jerusalem, is heavily guarded. According to students, guards search all people entering the campus.
Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority quickly issued a statement saying it “absolutely condemns the attack against Hebrew University.”
In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush denounced the bombing, calling any attack on a university “a horrific act of terror.”
“Campuses around the world are places of learning and should be places of peace. And this terrorist attack underscores again the need for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership to take action to halt terrorism so that peace has a chance in the Middle East,” Fleischer said.