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The BBC's Orla Guerin
"This was the horror to which Israel awoke"
 real 56k

Lt. Col. Olivier Rasowicz of Israel Defence Force
"The Palestinians have decided to launch a wave of terror"
 real 56k

Hamas' political wing spokesman, Ibraheem Ghosha
"It is not terrorism, it is legal resistance"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Bomb stokes Mid-East tension
Officials stand near bodies of victims
The bomb killed teenagers waiting for a bus
Israel has promised to retaliate against "terror" following Wednesday's suicide bombing by Islamic militants in central Israel.

Public Security Minister Uzi Landau said Israel would go on the offensive in the coming days.

"The battle ahead of us will continue for weeks and months," he said.


There are still seven martyrs ready to strike and we have more

Hamas spokesman
The attack, on a group of children waiting for a school bus on the border between Israel and the West Bank, left at least three people including the bomber dead and several critically injured.

The Islamic militant group, Hamas, said it was responsible, warning that several more similar attacks would be carried out.

Map of Israel
"There are still seven martyrs ready to strike and we have more," a man claiming to represent the group warned.

Reports of the latest incident came as the US vetoed moves in the UN Security Council to establish an international observer force to help protect Palestinians.

'Paying the price'

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called a meeting of his inner security cabinet for Wednesday afternoon to discuss the crisis.


The accusing finger is pointed at one man only, Yasser Arafat

Israeli defence minister

Defence Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer told Israeli radio: "Those who are involved in these murders and bloodletting will pay the price."

He said that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was ultimately responsible.

Ariel Sharon
Sharon is under pressure to stop the attacks
Mr Sharon is under mounting pressure to stop the Palestinian attacks, having been elected in February on a promise to provide security and take a hard line stance against the Palestinians.

But the BBC's Jeremy Cooke in Jerusalem says Mr Sharon may be reluctant to order immediate military action, as it could lead to further tensions and bring more condemnation from Arab leaders attending a summit in Jordan.

Nail bomb

The bomb went off close to a group of Israeli teenagers waiting for a bus near the central Israeli town of Kfar Saba at 0745 local time (0545GMT).

Ambulance at the scene
Emergency services rushed to the scene
Reports say the bomber walked up to the youths as they waited for the school bus by a petrol station near the "green line" which separates Israel from the West Bank.

Three youngsters, aged between 12 and 15, are reported to be in critical condition, wounded by nails in the bomb.

The armoured bus was due to take them to a religious school in a settlement in the West Bank.

In a separate incident at Jenin in the West Bank, a woman choked to death when Israelis fired teargas at a number of Palestinian dwellings.

In Gaza, a Palestinian child was killed by a delayed explosion when he picked up a shell fired by Israeli troops.

Other bombs have been defused near a market in the coastal town of Netanya and in the central city of Petah Tikva.

Police say they are tightening security "in a massive way" in cities across the country.

Regional police commander Yehuda Bachar told Israeli radio they had already raised security along the border.

More than 400 people have been killed since the uprising began, nearly 350 of them Palestinian, including dozens of children. More than 60 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have died.

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See also:

28 Mar 01 | Middle East
Day of violence in Mid-East
28 Mar 01 | Middle East
Militants 'testing Israel'
27 Mar 01 | Middle East
Assad and Arafat 'forget' past enmity
27 Mar 01 | Middle East
Israeli mistrust grows
19 Oct 00 | Middle East
Who are Hamas?
27 Mar 01 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
28 Mar 01 | Middle East
First test for Sharon
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