Israel Hits Back

A Palestinian woman suicide bomber blew herself up in a restaurant in Israel's northern city of Haifa, killing 19 people including three children and sparking new calls in Israel to exile Yasser Arafat.

Reuters has been more up front that BBC that this is a Palestinian bombing & killed children.

Israel hit back swiftly for Saturday's bombing, launching two helicopter gunship missile strikes in the Gaza Strip early on Sunday. There was no word of any casualties in the strikes on a militant's home in Gaza City and the el-Bureij refugee camp.

The Islamic Jihad group said it was behind the suicide bombing at the Maxim restaurant, frequented and owned by both Jews and Arabs, just before the solemn Jewish Yom Kippur fast day.

The suicide bombing provoked an international outcry and some Israeli government ministers openly demanded Arafat's removal. Palestinian leaders urged the world to prevent any assault to oust Palestinian president.

The attack dealt a new blow to a stalled U.S.-backed peace "road map." It was the first since twin attacks killed 15 people on September 9 and the first since Israel's cabinet decided in principle on September 11 to "remove" Arafat.


Police said the dead included three children and a security guard, and that about 50 people were wounded. A number of Israeli Arabs were also thought to be among the dead.

Islamic Jihad named the bomber as Hanadi Tayseer Jaradat, 29, from the West Bank city of Jenin. It said she was avenging the killing of her brother and cousin, Islamic Jihad members, by Israel in a three-year-old Palestinian uprising for statehood.

Arafat condemned the attack and said it would give Israel a pretext to obstruct international peace efforts.

Wow. And he had been working soooo hard to advance peace. Bummer.

Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qurie, whose government is obliged to rein in militants under the road map, urged militants to "fully halt these actions that target civilians." Israel said that was "too little and too late."

Israel blamed Arafat for the violence. "Arafat has become a living obstacle to peace. It is imperative that we get rid of him," Israeli Science Minister Eliezer Sandberg told Reuters.

The Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee appealed to the world not to permit an Israeli assault to prise Arafat out of his West Bank headquarters, urging it to prevent any "crimes...against President Arafat personally."

"We don't mind if you kill a few people in the camps, but not us."

About 30 Arafat supporters including some foreigners, went to his compound in the city of Ramallah to act as "human shields," witnesses said.

President Bush said the suicide bombing was despicable. He urged Palestinians to "fight terror, which remains the foremost obstacle to achieving the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security."

Britain, France and Germany also condemned the bombing. The United Nations said such attacks harmed the Palestinian cause.
Posted by: rkb 2003-10-04