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Suicide bomber kills 8 in Jerusalem

At least eight people were killed in Sunday's suicide bombing.
At least eight people were killed in Sunday's suicide bombing.

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Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claims responsibility for the suicide bombing of a bus during rush hour in Jerusalem.
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Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades
Acts of terror

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A suicide bomber on Sunday killed at least eight passengers on a crowded bus in Jerusalem at the height of rush hour, according to police in the city and Israeli ambulance services.

Jerusalem police spokesman Gil Kleiman said the suicide bomber also died in the terrorist attack, which wounded more than 50 people, 11 of them seriously.

The blast happened in West Jerusalem about 8:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. ET) on Sunday, the first day of Israel's working week.

Video showed the number 14 bus with its windows blown out and its interior mangled, as rescue workers removed the wounded and remains from the vehicle. (Survivors tell their stories)

The Jerusalem daily Haaretz identified the eight victims as:

• Lior Azulai, 18, who studied at the Gymnasia Rehavia high school in the capital.

• Nathaniel Havshush, 20, a staff sergeant in the Israel Defense Forces.

• Bnayahu Jonathan Zuckerman, 18, of Jerusalem, who studied at the Experimental School of Jerusalem. Nine other students at the school were wounded in the blast, Haaretz reported.

• Rahamiam Rami Duga, 37, from Mevasseret Zion.

• Yaffa Ben-Shimol, 57, of Jerusalem, who was headed to work at a senior citizens center.

• Ilan Avisedris, 41.

• Yehuda Haim, 48, a well-known grocery store owner in Jerusalem.

• Yuval Ozana, 31, who was on his way home from one of his two jobs.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- the military offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement -- claimed responsibility for the blast in a statement.

The group said the attack was in response to a February 11 Israeli military incursion into Gaza, in which 12 Palestinians were killed in gunbattles. The Israeli Army said the Palestinians were all armed, and that its forces were fighting the terrorist infrastructure. Palestinians say many of the killed were civilians.

Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Israeli civilians and military targets, and is designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.

Sunday's blast took place 24 days after a Palestinian policeman blew himself up aboard a Jerusalem bus, killing 11 passengers and himself. The suicide bomber left a will with Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, saying his motive was to avenge Israeli attacks in Gaza. (Full story)

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat denounced Sunday's attack.

"We condemn this attack and once again we urge the United States, and other members of the Quartet [Russia, EU and U.N.] to exert every possible effort to revive the peace process and put it back on track," Erakat said, referring to the four backers of the so-called "road map" to Mideast peace. The plan calls for steps by both sides toward ending the conflict and establishing an independent Palestinian state by 2005.

"Peace and security will not be derived through walls and through incursions and through assassination," Erakat said, referring to Israel's security barrier under construction near Israel's border with the West Bank. "It will only be attained through a meaningful peace process that will end the Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel."

Medical workers carry a wounded Israeli soldier to an ambulance at the scene of Sunday's attack.
Medical workers carry a wounded Israeli soldier to an ambulance at the scene of Sunday's attack.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei also issued a statement, saying such actions did not serve the higher Palestinian interest and should be halted immediately.

Reacting to Qorei's statement, White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said the Palestinian Authority "needs to go beyond words and take action to dismantle these terrorist networks."

President Bush on Saturday had received a briefing from key advisers just returning from the Middle East, who continue to insist the road map is still the best way to bring peace to the region.

The blast occurred the same day that the Israel Defense Ministry said Israel had begun tearing down a five-mile (8 km) section of the barrier, where it cuts into the West Bank. (Full story)

A Defense Ministry spokeswoman said Israel would fall back to a newly completed section of the fence that follows the 1967 border between Israel and West Bank.

Israel says the barrier is intended to bar terrorists from infiltrating its border. Palestinians accuse Israel of using the barrier to gain new land inside Palestinian territory.

"If anyone had any doubts of the need for the fence, today's crime against humanity speaks louder and better than any deposition," said Ra'anan Gissin, adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Gissin added that Palestinian suicide bombers should be tried for "crimes against humanity" at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Hearings on barrier begin

Acting on requests of the Palestinian leadership, the International Court of Justice began hearings Monday to consider whether the barrier, expected to be completed by the summer of 2005, violates international law.

The barrier is expected to be completed by the summer of 2005.
The barrier is expected to be completed by the summer of 2005.

Sharon's government has said it will not attend the hearings because it says that the court does not have jurisdiction in the matter, and that Israel can build the barrier as a means of self-defense. (Full story)

On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said the barrier does violate international humanitarian law, where it veers into Palestinian territory.

In a statement, the ICRC said Israel had erred by not following the so-called "Green Line," the pre-1967 border between Israel and the West Bank, which was part of Jordan at the time of the Six Day War. (Full story)

The Israeli government began building the barrier in 2002, about two years after renewed Palestinian-Israeli violence erupted in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

The United Nations General Assembly has demanded that Israel halt construction of the barrier and dismantle what has been built. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said the barrier is counterproductive to the road map.

CNN's Ben Wedeman, Shira Medding and Kathleen Koch contributed to this report.

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