Israel accused Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fateh faction of committing Monday's bomb attack on a school bus for Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip that killed two Israelis.
"According to our information, it was the Tanzim Fateh that was responsible for today's attack," government spokesman Nachman Shai told a press conference, referring to the Fateh militia it blames for stoking the unrest that has ripped through the Palestinian territories for more than seven weeks.
"This is an organization which is directly responsible to and reports to Yasser Arafat," he added.
Earlier, army radio said senior intelligence official General Amos Gilboa told a security cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Ehud Barak that "Fateh members linked to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority were responsible for this attack and not Islamists from Hamas or Islamic Jihad."
The bombing of the bus near the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom was the first deadly attack against settlers in the Gaza Strip since the wave of violence erupted across the Palestinian territories more than seven weeks ago.
The Palestinian Authority has denied any involvement in the attack and said it was launching its own investigation into the incident.
Earlier, Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said that the bomb blast was connected to the "Palestinian military establishment."
"Most probably, the attack was not connected to the Islamic Jihad or the Islamic Hamas. These terrorist attacks are connected to the Palestinian military establishment," he said.
But he added: "I don't connect him (Arafat) directly or hold him personally responsible ... but he is responsible for the terrorism and violence."
Sneh said Arafat nevertheless bore an "operative and political responsibility" for the attack.
"Every time there is a promise to stop the violence and terrorism and every time it happened again," he said. "He has to give the order to stop abruptly all military activities."
Three minor groups have claimed responsibility for the attack, without providing evidence of their involvement – JERUSALEM (AFP)
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