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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 19:37 GMT 20:37 UK
Arafat orders end to 'terrorist' attacks
Aftermath of pool hall bombing
The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has ordered his security forces to prevent "all terrorist operations" against Israelis after a suicide bomber killed 15 people and himself in an attack near Tel Aviv.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Powell said the latest attack endangered the peace process
Mr Arafat condemned the attack as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon flew back to Israel for an emergency cabinet meeting after cutting short a visit to the United States.

In Bethlehem, a BBC correspondent outside the besieged Church of the Nativity says the Israeli army seems to be preparing for at least some of those inside to come out.

But it is not yet clear what will happen to the 13 militants whom Israel describes as the most wanted, after Italy refused to receive them in exile.

The suicide bombing on Tuesday at a crowded pool club was the deadliest since Israel launched what it says was a campaign against Palestinian militants in the West Bank at the end of March.

Several hours after the Israeli leader left Washington, a second Palestinian tried to blow himself up at a junction near the northern Israeli city of Haifa.


I... give my order to the security forces to confront and prevent all terrorist operations against Israeli civilians from any Palestinian group

Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader
US Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking after meetings with UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, said Tuesday night's suicide bombing endangered the peace process.

"We note with deep regret the terrorist incidents yesterday... which once again puts at risk the possibility of going forward," Mr Powell said. "We condemn them and ask all others to condemn them."

Amid growing expectations of Israeli reprisals, the Palestinian leader said he was ordering "the security forces to confront and prevent all terrorist operations against Israeli civilians from any Palestinian group".

He said he was committed to the US-led fight against terrorism and appealed to the international community to help his forces "implement my order".

Mr Arafat later appeared on Palestinian television and reiterated his call.

Rishon Letzion bombing

Police say the bomber walked into the Spiel club on the third floor of a building in the suburb of Rishon Letzion with a suitcase packed with nails and explosives.

More than 50 people were wounded, some seriously.

The Islamic militant group Hamas said it was behind the attack.

Sharon warning

Speaking to reporters before he left Washington, Mr Sharon blamed Mr Arafat for the attack.

The bombing, he said, was "proof of the true intentions of those who lead the Palestinian Authority".

The Israeli leader said he was returning to Israel with a heavy heart, full of rage, and vowed to continue the fight against militants.

"Israel will not surrender to blackmail... he who rises up to kill us, we will pre-empt it and kill him first," Mr Sharon told reporters following talks with US President George W Bush.

The Israeli leader convened an emergency cabinet meeting after landing at Ben Gurion Airport, to discuss Israel's response.

Reports from the West Bank say Israeli forces have moved into a village near Jericho and rounded up several hundred men.

Robot defuses bomber

On Wednesday morning, a Palestinian man tried to blow himself up next to two soldiers at a bus stop at Megiddo Junction, 20 kilometres (12 miles) south-east of Haifa.

The bomb went off only partially and only the bomber was hurt, Israel radio reported.

Police used a robot to pull the man away from the bus stop and to defuse the explosives on his body. He was then taken to Afula Hospital.


The timing of the latest suicide bombing was not coincidental

Oleg, Canada

In Bethlehem, diplomatic and Israeli sources say a new deal has been struck to end the six-week siege.

The BBC's Claire Marshall, in Bethlehem, says it is understood that 26 of the wanted Palestinian militants will be taken straight to Gaza and the civilians will be freed.

The fate of the other 13 remains unclear. Negotiators on both sides had indicated that they would go to Italy, but the Italian foreign ministry rejected the plan.

Our correspondent says there is a lot of military activity around the church, with Israeli troops preparing barriers and re-erecting metal-detectors, apparently in preparation for at least some of those inside to come out.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Orla Guerin reports from Jerusalem
"It may be too late for Mr Arafat to stop all this now, even if he wants to"
Israeli government spokesman Gideon Meir
"Sucide bombers will lead Yasser Arafat's people nowhere"
Palestinian activist Mustafah Bargouthi
"How can Mr Arafat exercise his authority if the area is under Israeli military occupation"
See also:

08 May 02 | Middle East
Egypt dismisses Sharon proposal
08 May 02 | Middle East
Vatican calls for help on Bethlehem
08 May 02 | Middle East
Witnesses speak of bomb horror
08 May 02 | Middle East
Israeli press reflects return of fear
08 May 02 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
08 May 02 | Middle East
Gaza fears Israeli assault
08 May 02 | Middle East
UN condemns Israel over Jenin
07 May 02 | Middle East
Italy 'in dark' over Bethlehem deal
07 May 02 | Middle East
In pictures: Israel bomb blast
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