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The BBC's Stephen Gibb
"It seems Yasser Arafat is calling for a cessation of all violence"
 real 56k

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Tel Aviv
"The sense of loss is even more acute because the victims were so young"
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Hanan Ashrawi of the Palestinian Legislative Council
"The Palestinian people are not a regimented army, you cannot issue orders and have them complied with instantly"
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Former Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu
"Nothing justifies the deliberate, systematic assault on civilians"
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Dr Raanan Gissin, Advisor to Ariel Sharon
"We will never compromise on the security and safety of the citizens of Israel"
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Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Israel scorns Arafat promise
Israeli men cry at the beachfront in Tel Aviv
An outpouring of grief at the bomb site the day after 17 people died
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has promised to do all that is needed to bring about an "immediate and unconditional" ceasefire, following the deadliest bomb attack in Israel for five years.

But Israel says it wants actions, not just words.

Israeli radio quoted political sources as saying the government would give Mr Arafat 24 hours to "save the situation" and avoid a military response.


We are ready to make all possible efforts to ... do everything necessary for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire

Yasser Arafat

In its first response to the attack, it sealed off all roads to the West Bank and Gaza.

Seventeen young people were killed by a suicide bomber as they queued outside a nightclub and a further 90 were injured.

Mr Arafat said: "We exerted and we will now exert our utmost efforts to stop the bloodshed of our people and the Israeli people and to do all that is needed to achieve an immediate and unconditional, real and effective ceasefire."


I suggest judging Arafat not by his words but by his actions

Israeli Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar

But the Israeli Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar, when asked about these comments, told reporters: "I suggest judging Arafat not by his words but by his actions."

He repeated Israel's long-standing call for Arafat to arrest "terrorists" and order his security forces to halt violence.

Israel's warning

A communiqué issued after Saturday's emergency Israeli security cabinet session said Israel "would do whatever is necessary to protect its citizens", but gave no hint of what action it might take.

Israeli televison later said the government's demands to Mr Arafat were that he:

  • order all forces directly under him to cease fire
  • re-arrest all Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants released from prison
  • hand over to the Americans all light and heavy mortars Israel believes he holds in contravention of the Oslo and Wye accords.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has cancelled a tour of Europe scheduled for next week.

He was due to leave Monday for a trip to Germany, France and Belgium, stopping first in Berlin.

Pressure on Sharon

Mr Sharon is under increasing pressure, both within the cabinet and from the public, to abandon Israel's limited unilateral ceasefire.

Tel Aviv bomb scene
It was the worst attack in Israel in five years

Israeli crowds at the scene of the attack openly demanded war on the Palestinians and attacked a mosque nearby.

Seventeen people were reported injured as police tried to disperse the crowd.

BBC correspondents in Israel say the Palestinians are bracing themselves for a major Israeli attack.

Shock around the world

There has been strong international condemnation of the attack, which happened late on Friday evening outside a club crowded with young people going out for the weekend.

Of the 90 Israelis injured by the nails and shrapnel from the bomb 67 remain in hospital. Fifteen of them are in a critical or serious condition.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said he was horrified, and US President Bush called for an immediate ceasefire.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer at the bombing site in Tel Aviv
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer lays a funeral wreath
Russia blamed the bombing on extremists, with officials speaking of an inhumane criminal attack.

The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, said he was deeply shocked at what he denounced as a cowardly act. His foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, who was visiting Israel at the time, went to place flowers at the scene.

The French president, Jacques Chirac, said he was horrified and appealed for an immediate end to all violence.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack - Islamic Jihad denied initial press reports that it was their work.

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See also:

01 Jun 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Sharon under pressure
25 May 01 | Middle East
Blasts test Israel's 'ceasefire'
28 Mar 01 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
28 Mar 01 | Middle East
Bomb stokes Mid-East tension
02 Jun 01 | Middle East
Terror at the Pascha disco
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