Suicide attack hits mall in Netanya, Israel

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Four people were killed today at a suicide bombing near a shopping center in Netanya. One of the dead was the suicide bomber. 90 others were injured, five of them seriously. Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to Reuters' Tulkarem office and identified the bomber as Ahmad Abu-Halil of Tulkarem.

At about 6:35 p.m. local time (UTC +3), Abu-Halil detonated himself on a crosswalk, after approaching a group of four young women, French tourists according to some of the reports, who were crossing the road. Nearby automobiles were also damaged by the explosion, and some of the shopping center's windows were shattered. Local police said that the bomber carried around 10 kg of explosives, as well as nails and metal pellets, on an explosive belt that was strapped to his body. Netanya's mayor, Miriam Fierberg, was present on the scene of the attack and immediately began assisting the injured.

It was later published that the casualties are two 16-year-old girls from Tel-Aviv, who were killed on the scene attack. The two other victims died in the hospital - a 31-year-old woman from Netanya and a 50-year-old woman from Netanya, whose daughter and granddaughter were seriously injured in the attack.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) condemned the attack. PA official Jibril Rajoub called it "hurtful to our cause" and chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said that "those who carried out this attack want to sabotage the efforts being exerted to have a smooth and peaceful disengagement from Gaza and a revival of the peace process".

The Israeli government on the other hand alleges that the PA is not doing enough to stop terrorism. "Israel has done all it could to ease up Palestinian needs but the PA has not fulfilled obligations undertaken at Sharem al Sheikh and shows no signs of doing so" said David Baker, an official in the office of Prime minister Ariel Sharon.

In light of the bombing, Israeli defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, cancelled a meeting with the Palestinian minister for civil affairs, Mohammed Dahlan, set for this evening to coordinate various issues regarding Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

This was the third attack in Israel in one day. Earlier this morning two Israeli soldiers were injured when a bomb was detonated near the automobile they were driving near Netzer Hazeni in the Gaza Strip. Minutes before the attack in Netanya there was another attack attempt when a suicide bomber drove a stolen truck loaded with explosives into a civilian settlement of Shavey Shomron in Samaria, but he detonated the vehicle without harm to anyone but himself. The bomber was injured and is being treated at a local hospital.