A suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus Tuesday near the Pat Junction in southern Jerusalem.
At least 19 people were killed in the blast, Army Radio reported. Jerusalem District Police Chief Mickey Levy confirmed that some of the passengers were killed. He said the force of the blast ripped apart the bus.
Israel Radio reported at least 40 people were injured in the blast - 5 seriously, 3 with moderate wounds and 32 with light injuries. A school teacher told Israel Radio that many pupils were on the bus.
For the first time, Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came down to personally inspect the damage from the bombing attack, claimed by Hamas in a phone call to AFP.
In an official statement, the Hamas said that the bomber was Muhammad el-Ghul, a 22-year-old student at Beir Zeit University, and that he came from Al-Faraa, between Nablus and Jenin.
Al Ghul's brother, Amjad, told AFP the bomber was studying Islamic law in Nablus.
A large group of Hamas supporters, accompanied by members of Fatah movement and by supporters of the Islamic Jihad group, celebrated the bombing in Jenin refugee camp's streets and proceeded to Ghul's house.
Residents of the camp were also reported to have rejoiced on hearing the news of the bombing and fired their rifles in the air.
"The horrible pictures we saw here today of these murderous acts by the Palestinians are stronger than any words," Sharon said. "It is interesting (to wonder) what kind of Palestinian state they intend to create. What are they talking about? This terrible thing... is a continuation of the Palestinian terror which we will fight against."
David Baker, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, blamed Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat for Tuesday's attack.
"The Palestinian Authority is drenched in terror. This terror has seeped into (Palestinian) society," Baker said.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack and denied Israeli accusations that it was to blame.
"The Palestinian Authority condemns this attack and repeats its position of not condoning the killing of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis," Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told CNN.
"We cannot be blamed for it. We reject any Israeli attempts to assign blame or fingerpointing at us," he said.
Britain condemned as "evil beyond words" Jerusalem suicide bombing.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the attack, which could undercut U.S. President George W. Bush's plan this week to lay out a framework for Middle East peace, would only make it harder for Palestinians to reach their goal of an independent state.
"I am appalled by this despicable attack in which so many have lost their lives," Straw said in a statement. "The detonation of a bomb on a bus carrying schoolchildren is an act of evil beyond words.
"Nothing can ever justify the use of terror against innocent civilians to advance a political cause. Attacks such as this only make it more difficult for the Palestinian people to realise their legitimate aspirations," Straw added.
He said Palestinian Authority must show the world it was making a "100 percent effort to crack down on terrorism". (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
© 2000 - 2022 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)