Suicide bomber kills himself, wounds 20 Israelis in a restaurant attack, second in four days
JERUSALEM (AP) – A suicide bomber blew himself up on the patio of a restaurant near the northern Israeli coastal town of Haifa, killing himself and wounding up to 20 people, Israeli authorities said.
The bombing resembled a Palestinian suicide attack Thursday at a Jerusalem pizzeria that killed 15 and wounded about 100. However, in that attack the assailant went inside, and his bomb sprayed shrapnel and nails throughout the densely packed restaurant.
In Sunday’s attack, the bomber set off his explosives on the patio outside the restaurant, shredding an awning, overturning tables and chairs and leaving the patio of the Wall Street Cafe covered with blood.
Almost all of the injuries in Sunday’s blast were light, according to police and rescue workers in Kiryat Motzkin, a suburb north of Haifa, about 50 miles north of Tel Aviv.
Cafe owner Aharon Roseman said he saw the bomber approach and light a fuse that was strapped to his body. ”I grabbed a chair and threw it at him, and ran behind a wall, and that’s what saved me,” he told Israel radio.
Islamic Jihad, the radical group that has claimed many previous bombings, said its activist Muhammad Nasser, 28, carried out Sunday’s attack.
Nasser had worked for the Palestinian security forces until he left six weeks ago. Since then, ”he said often that he wanted to become a martyr,” Nasser’s father, Mahmoud, said at the family home in Qabatya, in the northern West Bank.
”Our fighter was able to penetrate into the heart of Zionism with all the security measures,” said Islamic Jihad leader Sheik Abdullah Shami. ”We will continue our fight, our struggle, our operations until we reach our goal of complete freedom.”
As with previous bomb attacks, Israeli officials said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat bore ultimate responsibility for his refusal to arrest Palestinian militants groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
”Arafat believes he can continue to support this wave of terrorism against Israeli civilians without any international pressure or condemnation,” said Dore Gold, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. ”Israel cannot tolerate this trail of terror.”
In the West Bank city of Hebron, 7-year-old Sapareen Abu Sneineh died of a gunshot wound to the head, hospital staff said. Palestinian security sources said she was hit by gunfire from Israeli troops.
The Israeli military had no immediate information on any Palestinian casualties, but said there had been extensive exchanges of gunfire in the town after two paramilitary border policemen were lightly wounded by Palestinian sniper fire there.
Sharon’s government responded to Thursday’s attack by taking over Palestinian political offices and security buildings in and around disputed east Jerusalem.
Israel has not said how long it intends to remain in the areas, which are surrounded by Palestinian neighborhoods. But Sharon’s Cabinet said in a statement that the Palestinian Authority ”committed many serious offenses in Jerusalem.”
”Terror activity and incitement will not be allowed to return to Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority will not be allowed to erode, unhindered, our sovereignty in Jerusalem,” the statement added.
Israel’s security forces maintained a tough posture Sunday, with the army shutting a Palestinian communications center and police pushing back about 40 demonstrators outside Orient House, a building that has served as the unofficial Palestinian headquarters in east Jerusalem.
Israeli seized control of the building Friday. The takeover of Orient House was criticized by the United States, European nations and Arab governments.
In New York, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called Sunday for ”the occupation of Orient House and the other properties to be ended without delay.”
Pope John Paul II on Sunday denounced the ”unheard of brutality” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said violence would not resolve the situation. Speaking from vacation in northern Italy, he urged both sides to work for a ”future of peace.”
Palestinians called for a ”day of rage” Monday to protest the Israeli crackdown in east Jerusalem and its suburb of Abu Dis.
”Israel opened the battle for Jerusalem and we will resist this new aggression,” said Ahmed Qureia, speaker of the Palestinian parliament. ”We will not forget until they withdraw from each centimeter of Jerusalem.”
Israel has claimed all of Jerusalem since capturing the eastern sector in the 1967 Mideast war, while the Palestinians want it as a capital of a future state.
In the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian security court convicted Khaled al-Oukka, 24, and sentenced him to death for collaborating with Israel in the February killing of Massoud Ayyad, a member of the Palestinian security forces.
Israeli helicopters killed Ayyad by firing missiles at his car in Gaza.
Ayyad’s relatives clapped and shouted, ”God is Great,” after the judge read the verdict Sunday.
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