Following bus attack: West Bank cities under full closure, PA cuts dialogue with Hamas, Islamic Jihad
In an immediate response to a bus bombing attack in Jerusalem, Israel froze all contacts with the Palestinian Authority, as well as the handover of two West Bank towns, Jericho and Qalqiliya, to Palestinian control. The handover had been expected later this week.
Additionally, Israel decided to seal off the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a security source said. In addition, the Israeli Army imposed a general closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and surrounded cities in the West Bank, Israel Radio reported.
A suicide bomber blew himself up Tuesday night on a bus in Jerusalem, killing at least 20 people, including five children.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad both claimed responsibility for the blast. More than 130 people were also wounded, 40 of them children, hospital officials said. The attack shattered a truce called by Palestinian factions on June 29.
On its part, the Palestinian Authority decided to cut all dialogue with Islamic Jihad and Hamas and instead use security forces to take action against the groups in the coming days, a Palestinian official told news agencies.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas had been meeting with Islamic Jihad leaders in the Gaza Strip at the time of the explosion, in a renewed attempt to persuade them to halt attacks.
Abbas condemned the bombing as a "terrible act" and said he ordered Palestinian security forces to investigate.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Abbas "to take decisive action to arrest the instigators," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York.
The European Union's top foreign policy representative, Javier Solana, urged all sides to "to exert maximum influence on armed groups to stop all attacks."
The attack followed a deadly explosion set off by a suicide bomber outside the hotel housing the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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