Three Israelis were killed and at least 48 people were injured when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in the market of the coastal city of Netanya Sunday afternoon.
One of the injured was in critical condition, eight were in serious condition, five sustained moderate wounds, and the rest were lightly injured, Israel Radio reported.
According to Israeli media reports, the bomber arrived at the market in a taxi, and was wearing an Israeli army uniform. Both Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the attack. Israeli security sources said they believed the PFLP was behind the attack.
Before the blast, the Israeli police received a warning of a possible attack in the central area of Israel. As a result, forces were beefed up along the border with the West Bank.
"Anyone who thought that the Palestinian terror campaign against Israelis is over is completely mistaken," said David Baker, an official at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office, speaking shortly after the blast. "The Palestinian terror campaign continues unabated, as does Israel's battle against terror."
For its part, the Palestinian Authority said it "condemned the terrorist operation that targeted Israeli civilians in Netanya." Mahmoud al-Zahar, a spokesman for Hamas, said the Netanya attack showed that "Sharon has failed to achieve any success in the last invasion against the West Bank cities."
U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said in Washington the Netanya attack "underscores the importance of reform of the Palestinian Authority...of getting a unified security apparatus that can be accountable and can deal with issues of terrorism and breaking up terrorist networks."
Sunday's bombing came hours after Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres outlined a peace plan that calls for streamlining the Palestinian security forces immediately followed by the establishment of a state in areas already under Palestinian control.
However, it was not clear how much support, if any, the plan would generate. Peres said in a radio interview Sunday that he is trying to get Sharon and the international community to support the proposal.
Peres' peace plan is partially based on understandings reached in talks he held in the past year with Palestinian parliament speaker Ahmed Qureia. Elements of it were first released to the media Saturday night. (Albawaba.com)
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