Annan Condemns Natanya Attack, Calls for ''Immediate'' Truce
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for an "immediate" truce between the Palestinians and, a UN statement said.
"I have just spoken to both Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat," Annan said in a Thursday statement. "I urge the leadership of both peoples to stay the course and continue the quest for peace. "The essential first step is an immediate ceasefire."
In addition, Annan condemned "suicide bombings against Israeli civilians as morally repugnant. Last night's heartless and indiscriminate attack in Netanya was an especially appalling example of this phenomenon.
"This is terrorism, and it greatly damages the Palestinian cause," he said.
A suicide bomber, Abdel-Basset Odeh, claimed by the Palestinian Hamas movement, killed himself and 20 other people in one of the worst attacks in the 18-month-old Palestinian uprising.
On Thursday, the armed wing of Hamas threatened Israel with a wave of further attacks.
A Hamas spokesman in Beirut, Usama Hamdan, told CNN the attack was meant to send a "message for all the world that we are trying to fight for our own freedom against a terrorist government in Israel led by Sharon." He said Israelis "have to expect those attacks from everywhere, from every Palestinian group."
Odeh had planned to carry out an attack last summer, reported Haaretz. In the beginning of August, Israeli troops arrested Hamas activist Nihad Abu Kishak in the area of the West Bank city of Tulkarem.
Abu Kishak carried explosive devices he was supposed to deliver to two activists planning to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel. He also carried the will of one of them - Abdel-Basset Odeh.
Israel demanded that the Palestinian Authority arrest Odeh. Ten days later the Palestinian Authority said that they had arrested him, but later Odeh was released from prison.
During the last Israeli operation in Tulkarem, soldiers tried to arrest Odeh at his home in the Nur A Shams refugee camp, but he escaped. Abas Sayed, the head of the military wing of Hamas in Tulkarem, had close relations with Odah. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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