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The BBC's Frank Gardner
"Hamas has long opposed the peace process"
 real 28k

Monday, 5 March, 2001, 12:57 GMT
Israel on alert for more bombs
Israeli borderguards check the ID of a Palestinian
Israeli borderguards check the ID of a Palestinian man
The authorities in Israel have stepped up security in shopping malls, bus stations and other public places following Sunday's suicide bomb attack.

Police chief Shlomo Aharonishki said he had ordered officers to drop other duties, even at the expense of fighting crime.

We will continue despite the starvation, the military closure and the extremely dangerous military escalation

Yasser Arafat
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the coastal town of Netanya, in which a suicide bomber and three Israelis died.

But the militant Palestinian group, Hamas, has vowed to carry out more attacks inside Israel.

It says it has 10 volunteers ready to carry out suicide missions as soon as Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon takes office, which is expected to be within days.

On Monday, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said his people would continue their struggle against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

'Daily battle'

"We will continue despite the starvation, the military closure and the extremely dangerous military escalation - until we raise the Palestinian flag over the walls of Jerusalem, the mosques of Jerusalem and the churches of Jerusalem," Mr Arafat said.

The spectre of further bomb attacks has prompted police to take unprecedented measures.

One of the victims being evacuated
There have already been three other bomb attacks inside Israel this year
Cadets and volunteers have also been mobilised and police and soldiers have also taken up positions along the so-called Green Line, which separates Israel from the West Bank.

But Mr Aharonishki warned that it was impossible to hermetically seal Israel's borders.

Urgent task

Mr Sharon, who has pledged to restore security to Israel after more than five months of fighting with the Palestinians, has blamed Mr Arafat for not doing enough to prevent attacks.

"This attack... shows the Palestinian Authority is not taking the required steps," he said. "We know clearly that forces particularly loyal to Mr Arafat are taking part in these attacks."

Ariel Sharon has pledged to restore security
Ariel Sharon has pledged to restore security
In a separate incident a Palestinian was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops on the outskirts of the West Bank town of Jenin.

His death brings to more than 400 the number of people killed since the Israel-Palestinian fighting began.

'No choice' for Palestinians

On Monday, Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin told an Italian newspaper that the Palestinian people had no choice between fighting or dying.

He described bomb attacks such as the one at Netanya as legitimate self-defence on the part of a people whose land had been "stolen by force".

A spokesman for Ariel Sharon said the prime minister-elect could be ready for office by Wednesday.

His agreement with the ultra-Orthodox Shas party on Sunday gives his coalition a majority in parliament.

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See also:

04 Mar 01 | Middle East
Sharon clinches key coalition deal
03 Mar 01 | Middle East
Army chief warns Palestinians
01 Mar 01 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
01 Jan 01 | Middle East
Explosions rock Israeli town
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