Suicide bombing attack in Rishon Letzion: at least two Israelis killed, more than 20 injured; PA condemns
At least two Israelis were killed and 24 others were wounded, five seriously, when a suicide bomber struck the center of the Israeli city of Rishon Letzion at around 9:10 P.M. Wednesday. The blast occurred at the main pedestrian walkways in the city, located about 10 kilometers south of Tel Aviv.
"This was another cowardly act of terror committed by Palestinian terrorists who have once again resorted to their murderous deeds," said David Baker, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Israel will not buckle under in the face of terror and we will use whatever measures are needed to root it out."
It was not immediately clear whether Israel would launch a military retaliation in the wake of this attack. Israel refrained from retaliating after three Israelis were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday in the fruit and vegetable market in the cosatal city of Netanya.
An Army Radio reporter at the scene said the crushed remains of one person could be seen on the pavement, possibly the body of the bomber.
Police were looking for a car thought to have dropped off the suicide bomber a short time before the explosion, Israel Radio said.
Police commander said that the bomber had been of European appearance, with bleached blond hair. "His hair was dyed blond, short, punk looking," he added. "I'm sure he disguised himself so as not to arouse suspicion at the scene."
Rishon Letzion was hit by a suicide bombing on May 7, when 16 Israelis were killed in a pool hall.
The armed wing of Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack. "Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades carried out a heroic martyrdom attack in the settlement of Rishon Letzion north of Tel Aviv," said a statement by the group. "We swear we shall avenge the blood of innocent martyrs and there shall be more martyrdom operations."
For its part, the Palestinian leadership condemned the suicide bombing in Rishon Letzion and urged its people to reject what it called a "terrorist attack" that endangered their fight for independence.
The Palestinian leadership said in a statement that it "considers the terrorist attack as a danger to the Palestinian people at a time when the (Israeli) occupation forces are continuing their military escalation and occupation of our land...under the pretext of fighting terrorism."
It called on Palestinians "to reject this attack...this attack gives justification for (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon to pursue the brutal war against our people."
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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