More violence threatens road map; blast kills at least 16
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
fresh round of violence has threatened the
• diplomatic progress made at two Middle
East summits last week, posing a chal-
lenge to the U.S.-backed road map peace
role in organizing Sunday's attack in the Gaza Strip
that killed four soldiers, and that he is serving as the
head of Hamas' military wing.
Hamas vowed revenge for the assassination
attempt — and it claimed responsibility for
Wednesday's suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
Earlier in the week, U.S. officials had urged Israel
and the Palestinians not to let extremists set the
diplomatic agenda, but this week's events showed
the difficulties in following up on the steps taken at
the summits in Egypt and Jordan.
In the Gaza Strip, four soldiers were killed and
reservists: Sgt. Maj. Assaf Aberjil, 23, and Sgt. Maj.
Udi Ayelet, 38, both of Eilat; and Sgt. Maj. Chen
Engel, 31, of Ramat Gan. Also killed was Sgt. Maj.
Boaz Emet, 23, from Beit She'an.
In other violence Sunday, an Israeli was killed
when two gunmen opened fire near the Tomb of the
Patriarchs in Hebron. Israeli troops killed at least
one of the attackers.
Earlier in the day, a border police officer was light-
ly wounded by a Palestinian gunman at a nearby
Three groups claimed joint responsibility for the
Gaza attack — Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aksa
Martyrs Brigades, which is linked to the Fatah move-
ment of Abbas and P.A. President Yasser Arafat. The
attack was seen as a direct challenge to Abbas, who
angered some groups by his conciliatory remarks at
the summit with Bush and Sharon in Aqaba last
Accusing Abbas of conceding on Palestinian
demands, Hamas froze cease-fire
contacts with the Palestinian
Authority and renewed its vow to
carry out terror attacks against
Abbas told reporters in Ramallah
".1 that dialogue is the only way to
achieve Palestinian interests. He
also called on Palestinian opposi-
tion groups to renew contacts with
the Palestinian Authority.
The most deadly attack came Wednesday after-
noon, June 11, when a Palestinian suicide bomber
killed at least 16 people in a bus bombing in down-
town Jerusalem. The attack on Jaffa
Road, near the Mahane
market, also wounded at least 70.
Israel responded Wednesday with a
helicopter strike in the Gaza Strip,
reportedly killing at least four people.
The suicide bombing and Israel's
retaliation were the just the latest
incidents in a bloody week. At least
five Israelis were killed and five
wounded in separate incidents in
the Gaza Strip and West Bank on
Sunday. Israel responded to Sunday's
incidents on Tuesday, when it
Israel, meanwhile, called on the
launched a helicopter strike in Gaza
Palestinians to immediately take steps
City that killed two bystanders, but
to crack down on terrorism, saying a
only wounded its intended target,
temporary cease-fire would not suf-
senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz
fice. Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev
Boim of the Likud Party told Israel
Later Tuesday, Israeli helicopters
Radio the attacks prove Palestinian
attacked a residential area in the
An Israeli policeman gestures in front of the wreckage of a bus after a suicide bomber blew terrorist groups are "not yet ready to
Gaza Strip, killing at least three
accept this process," referring to the
Palestinians who had just fired rock- himself up in Jerusalem on Wednesday.. At least 16 people were killed and more than 70
road map drawn up by the Quartet of
ets at an Israeli town, and wounding were wounded:
the United States, European Union,
at least 30.
United Nations and Russia.
Tuesday's attacks, which earned
U.S. officials urged the sides not to let extremists
four were wounded when three gunmen dressed in
Israel a stiff rebuke from U.S. President George W.
undermine the opportunity for peace. Secretary of
Israeli army uniforms infiltrated an army position
Bush, came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser
near the Erez Crossing. The gunmen were killed.
Sharon began fulfilling Israel's obligations under the
An inquiry showed that the three attackers had
Condoleezza Rice said such actions by opponents of
peace plan, removing 10 illegal outposts in the West
the process were expected, but the United States
Bank, most of them unpopulated.
remained committed to advancing the road map.
the Erez industrial zone. Under cover of heavy fog,
Though the United States defines Hamas as a ter-
This is the time when both leaders have to do
they crossed a fence and wall separating the industri-
rorist group, President Bush criticized Israel's strike
everything they can to move forward on the road
against Rantissi, saying it "does not contribute to the al zone from the nearby army position.
map, Powell told "Fox News Sunday." Powell also
After reaching the entrance to the outpost, they
security of Israel."
said Sharon is expected to live up to his commit-
opened fire and threw grenades at a soldier standing
Palestinian Authority officials also blasted the
ments and remove illegal settlements.
outside, killing him. They then shot and killed two
attack, but P.A. Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas —
Sharon did just that on Monday, with the removal
soldiers on guard duty at the outpost gates. The
who called it terrorism — said it would not halt
of the 10 outposts. Some rabbis associated with set-
gunmen entered the outpost and opened fire on the
progress on the road map. Two dozen people were
tler leaders blasted the move. "The decision to
soldiers, killing one and wounding four. Soldiers in
wounded in addition to Rantissi.
uproot Jews from their homes and land in outposts
the base returned fire, killing the three.
or settlements" is "a crime from a Jewish, national
Duct tape and plastic handcuffs were found on the
and moral standpoint," said the Rabbinical Council
attackers' bodies, raising the possibility that they had
of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. "We call on
intended to kidnap soldiers as bargaining chips for
Israeli government sources defended the attack, say-
the government to retract this wretched and con-
the release of Palestinian prisoners, Army Radio
ing Israel would continue to fight terrorism as long
temptible decision and we will use all our ability to
as the Palestinian Authority fails to do so, Israel
prevent it from going forward."
Three of the soldiers killed in the attack were
Radio reported. Israel believes Rantissi played a vital