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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Israel thwarts fresh suicide attack
Orthodox Jews comb the scene of Sunday's bombing
The market bombing was the most damaging for 12 days
A Palestinian has blown himself up at a police checkpoint in northern Israel, less than 24 hours after another bomber killed himself and three others at a market in the Israeli town of Netanya.

The Israeli army is reported to have staged an incursion into Palestinian-ruled territory, sending an infantry unit and tanks into Tulkarm, which lies 12 kilometres (eight miles) from Netanya.

(Suicide bombings) endanger the Palestinian people, its just cause, its rights, and the future of its dream of a state

Palestinian Authority
Earlier an army spokesman said Israel would continue its current policy of specific raids into Palestinian towns to root out militants, rather than conducting a broader military operation.

Two separate Palestinian militant groups, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed responsibility for Sunday's blast - which was the most damaging such attack for 12 days.

The Palestinian leadership, meanwhile, reiterated its opposition to suicide bomb attacks, which it said endangered the Palestinians' "just cause, rights, and dream of a future state".

Arafat 'not to blame'

Indicating a possible softer line towards the Palestinians, US officials reacted guardedly to the Netanya attack, with Vice President Dick Cheney saying that Palestinian leader Arafat could not be expected to control every Palestinian militant.

There was "clearly a class of bombings" he could not rein in, said Mr Cheney, but the Palestinian leader had in the past failed to stop other militants he did control:

"There have in the past been bombings by elements of Palestinian organisations that come under his control and there he clearly has the capacity to act."

US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said for her part that no-one had ever asked Mr Arafat "to get 100% results".

"What has been asked of him is 100% effort," she said.

In a BBC interview, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Zalman Shoval agreed there was a distinction between attacks carried out by forces under Mr Arafat's direct control and ones by groups such as Hamas and PFLP which oppose him.

Successive attacks

Monday's bombing was intended to target the Israeli town of Afula, police said. Like Netanya, Afula has been the target of numerous Palestinian attacks in the 20-month-long uprising against Israeli occupation.

It was a very, very strong blast

Netanya market trader
The bomber had tried to board a bus taking workers to a nearby factory, alerting the suspicions of passengers who telephoned the police.

The man - wearing jeans and trainers - detonated his explosives when two policeman patrol approached him and asked for his identity papers.

"We spoke to him and asked him who he was. He began to move back and then exploded," police patrolmen Nayef Ghanem said on Israeli Army Radio.

The bomber who attacked Netanya on Sunday had been dressed in Israeli army uniform,

Israeli police in Netanya
Netanya had been on high alert
One Israeli was killed instantly and two later died of their injuries, police said. At least 50 were wounded, including several in serious condition.

Netanya had been on high alert in the hours before the blast, after information was received that a suicide bomber was preparing an attack.

The last suicide attack in Netanya in March, which killed 29 Israelis celebrating Passover, provoked a fierce five-week Israeli offensive into the West Bank in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed and several thousand arrested.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Jerusalem
"The new bombings shatter two weeks of calm"
Zalman Shoval, Israel foreign policy advisor
"We never thought that Arafat could control each and every single act"
Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Legislative Council
"The only way out is to move quickly to an effective peace process"

Key stories




See also:

17 May 02 | Middle East
11 May 02 | Middle East
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
21 Mar 02 | Middle East
02 Dec 01 | profiles
27 Feb 02 | Middle East
20 May 02 | Middle East
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