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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Arafat closes 'suicide bombing' art show
Sbarro exhibit
The three-day exhibition closed a day early
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has closed down an art exhibit which featured a recreation of the scene of a suicide bombing.

The exhibition, at An-Najah University in the West Bank town of Nablus, was organised to mark the first anniversary of the Palestinian intifada.

A security official confirmed that Mr Arafat ordered the early closure of the show which featured a recreation of last month's attack on a Jerusalem pizzeria.

"The president was gravely disturbed and offended by the images in the exhibit," the official said.

Palestinians leaving the exhibition
The display divided those who saw it
The room-sized installation had broken tables splattered with fake blood and body parts.

A university branch of the militant Palestinian group Hamas built the exhibit, which recreates the scene of last month's attack on Sbarro Pizza house in Jerusalem.

A suicide bomber - Ezzaldin Almasri - blew himself and 15 other people up during a busy lunchtime at the restaurant.

The installation included a portrait of the bomber holding a koran and a rifle.

Underneath, in a reference to the military wing of Hamas - Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades - the artist had written: "Qassami Pizza is more delicious."

Outside the exhibition, which opened on Sunday, a mural also depicted the Sbarro bombing.

Israeli checkpoint in Nablus
Arab-Israeli relations in Nablus are tense
A spokesman for Mr Arafat said the leader had instructed the authorities concerned "to investigate the matter and reprimand those responsible".

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Holocaust memorial institution, had asked the US Government to protest to Arafat about the exhibition.

The director of the centre, Rabbi Marvin Hier, said the university, which is under Arafat's control "pays homage to suicide bombers".

But some of those who visited the exhibition supported the display.

'Hit back'

"We don't like blood, but this a way to retaliate against the massacres committed by Israel, " said Alas Hmeidan, head of Islamist students at the university.

We want to show them we can hit back."

But during a speech in Washington on Monday, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed pictures of the restaurant exhibit.

He said that Mr Arafat is not stopping terror attacks against Israel.

See also:

26 May 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Middle East's circle of despair
08 Dec 00 | Middle East
Intifada: Then and now
01 Aug 01 | Middle East
In pictures: Nablus funerals
01 Aug 01 | Media reports
Press anger over Nablus attack
26 Sep 01 | Middle East
Arafat and Peres meet
09 Aug 01 | Middle East
Israel stunned by Jerusalem blast
10 Aug 01 | Middle East
In pictures: Jerusalem blast
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