Israel mulls response to Jerusalem suicide blast as UN describes it as ''war crime''
At least eight people were killed and at least 60 people were wounded Sunday morning, 11 of them seriously, in an explosion on a bus in west Jerusalem. The blast took place at around 8:30 a.m. (local time).
Hours after the attack, the military wing of the Fatah – the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have claimed this attack.
According to Palestinian sources, Mohammed Za'ul, 23, from the Hussan village near Bethlehem, carried out the suicide bombing attack. The group said the attack in Jerusalem came in response for the latest Israeli raid on Gaza Strip and the construction of the West Bank fence.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei [Abu Ala] condemned the act in a statement and called for "an immediate halt to these actions," which gives Israel an excuse for continuing building the barrier and carrying out raids against Palestinians.
Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat, for his part, said he condemned the attack and called on, "the United States to step up its efforts to revive the peace process, because it's the only way to break the cycle of violence."
In a statement posted on its Web site, Hamas demanded Israelis leave all of Israel, "if not, they will face the same destiny of those Zionists who were attacked in the martyrdom operation in Jerusalem today."
Israeli officials said the explosion proved the need for the so-called "separation fence" it was building in the West Bank.
"This attack in Jerusalem proves without a shadow of a doubt the need for Israel's security fence. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding himself," said David Baker, an official in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office on Sunday.
Parliament member Aryeh Eldad, from the extreme right-wing National Union party called for the deportation of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. "We must dismantle the Palestinian Authority, expel its leaders and collect all their weapons", Eldad said.
Later on the day, Israeli government sources said Israel would not launch a harsh military response. The remarks followed a meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.
Sharon and Mofaz met for two hours, during which they were updated on the details of the suicide attack and discussed possible Israeli responses.
United Nations Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen condemned the attack, which he called a "war crime". "First of all my thoughts go to the victims of this war crime and their families," he said, according to the AFP.
"We urge the Palestinian Authority to avoid such terrorist attacks. PA has to ensure that such terrorists are arrested and judged." (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)