Suicide bomb attack kills 6; Israel poised to occupy land

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Editor's note: This story was submitted to Israeli military censures as required by the government, and deletions were made.

By Susan Sevareid ~ The Associated Press

JERUSALEM -- A suicide bomber sprang from a car, slipped past a pair of policemen and blew himself up at a busy Jerusalem intersection Wednesday, killing at least six other people in the second deadly attack in the city in two days.

Israel responded about three hours later with helicopter rocket attacks on metal workshops in the Gaza Strip used to manufacture weapons for Palestinian militants. Thirteen Palestinians were hurt, two seriously, Palestinian doctors said.

A group tied to Yasser Arafat's Faith faction claimed responsibility.

Earlier Wednesday, Israel said it would reoccupy Palestinian territory in retaliation for terror attacks, and troops moved into three West Bank towns.

In Washington, President Bush decided to hold off revealing his plan for a future Palestinian state. Administration officials said an announcement at this sensitive time would be unlikely to have a positive effect. Aides said the announcement may be delayed until next week.

Leaders condemn attacks

A trip to the Middle East next week by Secretary of State Colin Power also was put on hold, though it remained under consideration.

In one of his strongest condemnations ever, Pope John Paul II decried Tuesday's attack, saying "those who plot and plan such barbarous attacks will have to answer before God."

More than 50 prominent Palestinians signed a full-page newspaper ad in al Quds news urging groups behind deadly assaults on Israeli civilians to "stop sending our young people to carry out such attacks."

On Wednesday, the bomber emerged from a red Audi and dashed toward a concrete bus stop shelter, which is also used as a hitchhiking post. The intersection has been targeted by assailants in the past and was heavily guarded.

But the attacker made it past a pair of border policemen.

"The police chased him to try to stop him, and when he got to the (bus stop), he blew up a large device," said Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy.

One policeman chasing the bomber was badly hurt, Levy said. More than 35 people were wounded, many of them seriously.

Body parts and shattered glass littered the street, and religious volunteers propped a ladder against a stone wall and picked through the shrubbery for bits of human remains.

An overturned baby carriage was covered with black plastic by rescue workers. Government spokesman Danny Seaman said a baby wasn't among the dead, but one had been rushed to a hospital.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the bombing, according to Al Manner television station run out of Lebanon by the militant Islamic group Hezbollah.

The newspaper ad, whose signers included legislator Hanna Ashram and the Palestinians' senior Jerusalem official, Sari Nusseibeh, said: "We see no results in such attacks, but a deepening of the hatred between both peoples and a deepening of the gap between us."

The ad urged all Palestinians who support such a call to sign on. Polls consistently have found the majority of Palestinians support suicide bombings, but less strongly since Israel's recent six-week military campaign in the West Bank.

That shift hasn't gone unnoticed.

Troops fortify posts

"I have begun to discern developments on the Palestinian side that they are, for the first time, doing some soul-searching about 'What have we done? What have we achieved?'" Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told Jewish delegates to an annual Zionist Congress in Jerusalem.

Israeli troops, meanwhile, fortified their positions in the northern West Bank, suggesting plans for an extended stay.

The move came after the government announced it was prepared to reoccupy Palestinian areas in response to attacks.

Tuesday's bombing on a Jerusalem bus killed 19 people, the worst in Jerusalem in six years.

Hamas claimed responsibility for Tuesday's blast in a leaflet saying it was prepared for a prolonged offensive against Israel that it called "the war of the buses." Hamas spokesman Ismail Abu Shanab said that in light of Sharon's plans to reoccupy Palestinian land, more suicide bombings were on the way.

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