An Israeli bomb squad member walks past the scene
of a suicide bomb attack in Netanya on Tuesday.
Suicide bomber strikes outside
Netanya shopping center.
t least two people were killed and 37 wounded
when a major explosion occurred at an inter-
section near the Sharon Mall in Netanya
around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (Israel time).
Sources close to the prime minister responded to the
deadly attack, saying firmly that Israel would react
with a heavy hand. If the Palestinian Authority does
not deal with Islamic Jihad terrorism, then Israel will,
A suicide bomber detonated himself on a cross-
walk directly across from the mall.
Two of the wounded were in critical condition; six
suffered serious wounds; seven suffered moderate
wounds and a number more were being treated for
light wounds, medics said.
An hour after the attack, Magen David Adorn res-
cue teams had finished evacuating the wounded and
began to remove bodies from the scene, where body
parts mingled with the spent latex gloves.
nearby vehicles were also damaged in the blast.
An eyewitness told Israel Channel 2 that the sui-
cide bomber detonated his explosives in the middle
of a crosswalk facing the mall after he apparently
failed in his attempts to enter the shopping mall due
Crowds gathered at the scene and were angrily
demonstrating in protest of political and diplomatic
decisions, which they claimed put the Israeli popula-
tion at risk, an eyewitness said.
Security forces did not have any prior warning of
the attack, Army Radio reported.
The Israel Defense Forces was looking into how
the suicide bomber managed to infiltrate into Israel
and was exploring whether he had managed to per-
meate the West Bank security fence. Police were
Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al Quds
for the person who drove the bomber to
Battalions, claimed responsibility. The bomber was
location in Netanya.
identified as 18-year-old Ahmed Abu Halil from a
Security services were investigating whether a link
village near Tulkarm. Tulkarm was one of the West
existed between the Netanya attack and a second
Bank cities that was recently handed over to P.A.
attack — also carried out by Islamic Jihad — at the _
Netanya, the site of many deadly terror attacks in
Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron, which
the past, is located minutes away from the West
some 30 minutes earlier.
Bank city of Tulkarm.
a suicide attacker drove a stolen
Islamic Jihad is quickly becoming the best funded
gas balloons into the gate of the
of the Palestinian terror organizations and has been
near the settlement's pre-
responsible for many of the most recent terror
school. The bomber was the only casualty in that
attacks. Unlike Hamas, Islamic Jihad is not bound
incident, which authorities now suspect may have
by the "calming" agreement to refrain from terror
been planned to distract security forces from the sec-
attacks against Israeli civilian targets.
ond bomber, then en route to Netanya.
As the claim of responsibility for the attack came
Israel Police Central District Commander Benny
from a smaller, local wing of the Islamic Jihad, there
said that "logic dictates that there is a connec-
was some suspicion that it emanated from a local ini-
the two attacks. He doubted, howev-
tiative rather than from the top.
existed between this attack and
Just last week, P.A. Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
the Maccabiah. Events are under way nearby at the
met with the leader of Islamic Jihad during Abbas'
Wingate Institute, near Netanya.
visit to Damascus.
The last suicide bombing was in February at the
Police said they had arrested an Islamic Jihad sus-
nightclub in Tel Aviv, which killed five people.
pect in connection with Netanya bombing, accord-
was also carried out by an Islamic
ing to an Associated Press report.
Police and security forces raised alertness levels
The Netanya shopping mall was already the scene
around the country immediately after the attack.
of a terror bombing that killed five and wounded 74
in May 2001. In that bombing as well, the suicide
bomber was prevented from entering the mall and
detonated at the outside security checks.
The glass doors at the entrance to the Sharon Mall
The first installation of the security barrier was
shattered, and glass lay scattered on the sidewalk,
to defend Netanya from such attacks. ❑
according to an eyewitness description. A number of
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