Arafat condemns Islamic Jihad attack in Haifa as Israel vows harsh response
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat condemned the Islamic Jihad bombing attack which killed at least 20 Israelis at a restaurant in Haifa on Saturday, saying it was against Palestinian national interests.
Arafat said in a statement, cited by Reuters that the bombing gave Israel a "pretext to obstruct international peace efforts."
"President Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership strongly condemn the bombing operation at Maxim restaurant in Haifa in which Israeli civilians and Arabs were killed," the written statement said.
Earlier, Israeli sources said that "Israel would respond harshly" to the attack, and that the response might come as early as Saturday evening.
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened a meeting of senior political and defense officials shortly after the attack to discuss Israel's response.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad claimed the attack. According to Palestinian sources the bomber was identified as Hanadi Jaradat, 18, from Jenin. Palestinian sources said that about three months agao Israeli forces killed her borother, Fadi and another family member, named Saleh.
In Washington, President Bush branded the attack as "despicable," saying it was a reminder of the Palestinians' need to combat "terrorism."
"I condemn unequivocally the vicious act of terrorism committed today in Haifa," Bush said in a written statement, quoted by The AP. "This murderous action, aimed at families gathered to enjoy a Sabbath lunch, killed and injured dozens of men, women, and children."
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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