Jerusalem bombing kills 9 bystanders
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Nine bystanders, including an 18-month-old girl, died Saturday evening when a suicide bomb ripped through a central Jerusalem street as worshippers left Sabbath services, according to Israeli police and emergency workers. At least 57 others were wounded.
In an apparent response to the bombing, Israeli Cobra helicopters fired on a Palestinian weapons factory in Bethlehem, the Israel Defense Forces said early Sunday. A Palestinian government building was located next to the weapons factory, but the extent of damage and injuries was not immediately known.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack. It identified the bomber as a 20-year-old Palestinian from the Deheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem.
The terror bombing -- which the Palestinian Authority and the United States swiftly condemned -- occurred in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood as people were returning to the streets at the end of the Jewish Sabbath.
Four of the wounded were in critical condition, hospital sources and ambulance services said.
"It was crazy. There were kids and adults running all over the place. I saw one woman sitting on the pavement screaming that her son had been killed," a 22-year-old man, who gave his name as Alan, told Reuters. (Full Story)
The bombing took place in an alley near a major thoroughfare, next to a synagogue. The area has been the scene of similar attacks in the past year.
"This has nothing to do with warfare, this has nothing to do with national liberation, this has to do with the murder of innocent Jews coming back from their evening prayers," said Dore Gold, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "The state of Israel knows how to defend the people of Israel, and will do so."
Outraged Palestinians had vowed to attack after the Israeli army Thursday entered the West Bank refugee camps of Jenin and Balata, the first major incursions into Palestinian camps in the past year and a half.
According to the Israeli Defense Forces, the camps have acted as staging areas for suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli checkpoints and settlements that have surged in recent weeks. The IDF said the goal of the incursions was to stop terrorists and dismantle terrorist infrastructure.
The army said Saturday it had pulled out of Jenin and positioned its troops on the outskirts of town. Palestinian security sources said Israeli tanks were at the camp's entrance. (Full Story)
According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, the fighting in Balata has left 25 Palestinians dead. Two Israeli soldiers have been killed.
At the time of the explosion in Jerusalem, Hamas supporters demanding revenge were holding a rally in the streets of Ramallah. Some members of the crowd cheered when they learned of the bombing.
"What does the occupation expect of us?" asked Hassan Yousef, a Hamas leader in Ramallah. "What does the world want of the Palestinian people? Do we not have the right to respond? Has the victim not the right to respond to those who are beating him?"
Hamas said Saturday that Israeli forces shot and killed a member of the group's militant wing as he was planting explosives near the soldiers in northern Gaza late Friday.
The Israeli army said its forces shot two Palestinians and killed one of them after they approached the soldiers Friday night near Beit Hanoun.
The wounded Palestinian was taken from the area by a Palestinian ambulance. Hamas did not say whether the wounded man also was a member of its militant wing. He was injured about 400 yards from the other man.
Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has been labeled by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. The group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and well as attacks against the Israeli military.
The violence came on the heels of a Saudi Arabian peace proposal that has rekindled hope for a possible resumption of peace talks.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak arrived Saturday in Washington, where he was expected to meet with President Bush about the proposal.
It calls for recognition of Israel and full normalization of ties with the Arab world in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories back to the borders in place before the 1967 Six-Day War.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning the Jerusalem bombing "in the strongest possible terms."
"Such murder of innocent citizens cannot be justified and can only harm the interests and aspirations of the Palestinian people in progress toward a better future," the statement said.
"We call upon Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to do everything possible to confront and stop the terrorists responsible for these criminal acts."
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