Monday, December 05, 2005

Report #39 on the Era of Peace

Link to Original

5 killed in Netanya suicide bombing

Jerusalem Post

December 5, 2005

Five people were killed and 66 were wounded - three seriously - in an explosion that rocked the entrance to the Hasharon shopping mall on Herzl Street in Netanya at 11:25 a.m. Monday morning. Four died at the scene, and another person died on the operating table at Laniado Hospital in Netanya.

Four of the five victims were identified on Monday evening.

Alexandra Zrnitzki, 65, of Netanya was killed, along with the security guard who was tried to stop the bomber, Ayala Rosen, 38, of Beit Hefer. Nahariya resident Daniel Golani, 45, died, as did Haim Amram, 26, a Netanya resident.

The name of the fifth victim was yet to be released.

As of Monday evening, 21 people wounded in the attack were still in hospitals. Four of those remaining hospitalized were listed in moderate-serious condition, Channel 2 reported.

Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi told reporters that the bomber was "identified 15 meters in front of the mall by policemen and a security guard. Police managed to keep him away from the gate, and he blew himself up when police approached him to conduct a search of his bags."

According to Karadi, "Members of the security services were hurt in the event," but "the actions of the guards and the police prevented a much more deadly bombing."

Magen David Adom reported that all of the wounded were evacuated to Laniado, Meir and Hillel Yaffe hospitals. Nine wounded were taken to Laniado, including one who died after arrival. Hillel Yaffe received 22 wounded and 28 were evacuated to Meir Hospital.

The Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the attack in a phone call to Palestinian journalists, identifying the bomber as Lutfi Amin Abu Salem, a resident of the northern West Bank village of Kafr Rai, located between the towns of Jenin and Tulkarm.

Imad Abu Diab, a leader of the Islamic Jihad in Tulkarm, told The Jerusalem Post that "the tahdiya (or "calm") no longer exists and that operations against Israel will continue as long as there is occupation."

The Islamic Jihad is the only terror organization that is not a signatory to the Palestinian factions' tahdiya.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas condemned the bombing and ordered the arrest of those involved, his office said in a statement.

"This operation ... against civilians causes the most serious harm to our commitment to the peace process and the Palestinian Authority will not go easy on whoever is found to be responsible for this operation," the statement quoted him as saying.

In the wake of the bombing, police raised the level of alert across the country. Security was increased in entertainment venues and malls, a crackdown was begun on Palestinians illegally residing in Israel and patrols along the seam line with the West Bank were bolstered.

Police forces were also reportedly in pursuit of a vehicle that fled the scene immediately after the explosion.

"It's obvious that the Palestinian Authority is showing no intention to take real steps to dismantle or disarm the terrorist organizations," Ra'anan Gissin, spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said in response to the bombing. The bombing was "a direct consequence of not taking these steps." He further accused Syria, Iran and Hizbullah of encouraging terrorism in Israel "for the purpose of scuttling the process that seemed to be gaining momentum," but added that this did not absolve the PA of responsibility.

Gissin told reporters that the security cabinet would meet Monday evening to decide what measures Israel would take in response to the bombing. "We'll take all necessary steps to defend ourselves," he stressed, and added that Israel would not be limited in any way in its response.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called the attack "additional proof of the inaction of the Palestinian Authority under Abu Mazen. Israel can't stand a continuation of the spilling of blood in the cities and the Kassam attacks." He added, "The leadership of the Palestinian Authority is refusing to act against the terror organizations and to dismantle them."

Amir Peretz announced that he would convene a meeting of his "forum of generals and admirals" Monday evening at 6:00 p.m. to discuss Labor's reaction to the bombing.

Former prime minister and IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, former head of the IDF's Civil Administration in the West Bank Ephraim Sneh, Brig-Gen. (res.) Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, former commander of the navy and head of the Israel Security Agency Ami Ayalon and former Jerusalem Police chief Aryeh Amit are all members of the forum.

In response to the bombing, Peretz said that "we must conduct a war without compromise against terror, which is the enemy of democracy, peace and Israeli society." He vowed that Israel "will continue in the struggle against the attackers and those who send them."

Peretz added that "We in the peace camp see terror as the number one enemy of peace. We would do everything necessary to anyone who uses terror to threaten Israelis. As peace people, we would have even more of a right to fight back against terror. This is not a time for politics. It's a time to be there for the families and the soldiers."

Regarding an Israeli response, Peretz, who serves as opposition leader, cautioned that Israel should "be careful before assigning blame" and should "check the impact [of the bombing] on the [Palestinian] elections. The PA has an interest in making sure terror doesn't come from its territory," he said, but added, "The people who want to rule have to prove that they can rule without allowing terrorist attacks to happen."

Sources close to Sharon said that they did not expect the attack to harm the prime minister politically.

According to the sources, if anything, it would help him since it reminds the nation that when the country is under attack, only Sharon can be trusted to handle Palestinian terrorism. It also shifts the focus away from Peretz's social-economic agenda, they added.

The Islamic Jihad was also behind the October suicide bombing in the Hadera market that killed five people.

Five people were killed in a July 12 terror attack at the same mall.

Arieh O'Sullivan, Hilary Leila Krieger, Matthew Gutman, Gil Hoffman, Yaakov Katz and AP contributed to this report.


Post a Comment

<< Home