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Bomb blast kills 2 in Israel

Kfar Saba bus bomb attack

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A suicide bomb attack at a bus stop near Tel Aviv has killed two people and injured 36 more.

The bomber is believed to have set off the explosion just as a bus pulled up to pick up passengers in a crowded area of the town of Kfar Saba.

Police are working on the theory that the bomber is one of the two fatalities. A young boy injured in the explosion is said to be in a serious condition.

Kfar Saba, about 20 km (12 miles) north of Tel Aviv, is near Israel's border with the West Bank and has been a frequent target of Palestinian militant attacks.

The blast comes as the Israeli security cabinet convened in Jerusalem just hours after meeting Palestinian security chiefs at the Erez checkpoint.

CNN's Mike Hanna reports on attacks that Israel says are retaliation for Palestinian mortar fire

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CNN's Jerrold Kessel: Confrontation rages on

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CNN's Mike Hanna: Ongoing security contacts

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CNN's Jerrold Kessel said the cabinet was discussing how to handle the latest phase of violence in the region.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Israel said it will work to bring and end to the violence and ease restrictions on the Palestinian territories.

An earlier statement issued by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after the three-hour Erez meeting said that a "good and serious" mood had prevailed.

It added that the two sides "agreed upon long-term and ongoing security cooperation," Reuters News Agency reports.

"It was decided to implement a series of steps which would bring about a cessation of the ongoing terror and violence and the continuation of the easing of civil and economic restrictions on the Palestinians," the statement said.

On Saturday Israel had attacked a Palestinian police post in Gaza.

The Israeli move into Palestinian-controlled territory was the latest in a series of raids into the coastal strip this week. Israel's military says the moves are retaliation for Palestinian mortar attacks.

No injuries were reported in the incursion, which lasted about 90 minutes. Palestinian officials said Israeli forces used three tanks and two bulldozers to flatten the one-story police post, which Israel said was being used as a base to attack its troops.

"It was a pinpoint operation to stop gunfire that was directed towards our forces from the post as they passed along the fence on the Israeli side," an army spokeswoman said. "After they identified the source of the gunfire, the soldiers went in and destroyed the post."

Reports to Israel's Cabinet count a total of 78 mortar shells fired at Israeli positions in April alone, and Israel holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for those attacks.

Palestinian Authority officials say they have arrested several people for firing mortars from populated areas. But the radical Palestinian group Hamas said Saturday it would continue the mortar strikes.

"We have to convince the Israelis that their existence in our occupied territories is going to cost a lot," Hamas spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar said. "Without reaching this conclusion, they will not withdraw from Palestinian areas."

Meanwhile, a television reporter was wounded in the leg by gunfire from an Israeli post while filming damage left by Israeli troops in Rafah, in southern Gaza. Israeli troops said they regretted the incident and were investigating.

Israeli security officials were expected to meet Saturday night with their Palestinian counterparts at a border checkpoint at Erez. The security talks were suspended after Israel's move into Gaza on Monday, which the United States criticized as "excessive and disproportionate."

Richard Murphy, a former U.S. State Department official, said Saturday's security talks could pave the way for new talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"They're both on pretty raw nerve endings on this point. Counseling by the Americans and bringing the two security leaderships together will be a first step," Murphy said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said he had held talks with the Palestinians and hoped that quiet diplomacy behind the scenes would help ease tensions.

He told Israeli radio: "Violence cannot be stopped only by the use of force. It is also necessary to talk. I think we have to try to make a breakthrough. It is possible, even if it is difficult."

But Palestinian sources characterized the talks as part of ongoing security negotiations.

Israeli police enter disputed compound
April 20, 2001
Blast rocks central West Bank town
April 19, 2001
Sharon's U.S. test
April 18, 2001
Witnesses: Israel shells Gaza town
April 18, 2001
Arabs blast Israeli moves in Gaza
April 17, 2001

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
israeli Prime Minister's Office
The Knesset, Israeli parliament
Israel Defense Forces
Permanent Mission of Israel to the U.N.
Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian Red Crescent
Permanent Mission of Palestine to the U.N.
U.S. State Dept: Near eastern affairs
U.N. The Question of Palestine
E.U. Middles East policy

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