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Sunday, 21 July, 2002, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Israeli train hit by blast
Passengers leaving the train after the blast
Israel has blamed Palestinians for the attack
The driver of an Israeli passenger train has been injured by an explosion near the town of Yavneh, south of Tel Aviv.

A device planted on the railway tracks exploded as a double-decker commuter train passed over it. The train was not derailed.

The Israeli Government blamed the Palestinian authorities for failing to stop the attack - the fourth such blast in the area this year.

It came just hours after senior Israeli and Palestinian officials resumed talks, focusing mainly on the plight of Palestinians who have been under curfew in the West Bank and Gaza for more than a month.

'Terrorist attack'

Media reports said the train - travelling from the northern town of Binyamina to the port city of Ashdod in the south - was packed with soldiers returning to base after weekend leave.


It was made clear to them - and they are starting to understand - that terrorism is hurting them as well as us

Shimon Peres, Israeli Foreign Minister
While no passengers were injured, the driver was slightly wounded in the stomach, police and rescue workers said.

"This attack ...clearly indicates that the Palestinian Authority has taken no action whatsoever to stop these terrorist attacks," said government spokesman Raanan Gissin.

"On the contrary... where they fail to produce attacks, let's say, against civilians or against our buses, then of course they attack our trains as well.

"The war against us has not stopped for one day," Mr Gissin added.

In the most serious of the rail attacks, three passengers were slightly wounded three weeks ago, during another Sunday morning rush hour, in the city of Lod.

Other railway attacks this year were near Hadera earlier in June, and on the Tel Aviv-Haifa line in May.

Talks

Sunday's explosion came after Foreign Minister Shimon Peres led an Israeli team into talks with a Palestinian delegation, headed by cabinet minister Saeb Erekat.

Israeli train attacks this year
July: Yavneh, south of Tel Aviv
June: Lod and near Hadera
May: Tel Aviv-Haifa line

The discussions, held at an undisclosed location, were aimed at alleviating economic hardship for nearly 700,000 Palestinians hit by Israeli curfews and roadblocks.

Mr Peres told Israeli radio the meeting "touched on real problems, we managed to partly avoid polemics, and there will be other meetings of this type held in the week".

"We told them that the Israeli army has no intention of remaining in the sectors [of the West Bank] where the Palestinians take the situation in hand and stop the terrorism," he said.

"It was made clear to them - and they are starting to understand - that terrorism is hurting them as well as us."

Saeb Erekat said the talks on "political, economic and security issues," had been "serious and practical" but no agreements had been reached.

"I'm not raising any expectations about the result," Mr Erekat said.

The meeting had been postponed twice after Palestinian militants killed 12 Israelis in attacks outside a Jewish settlement on the West Bank and in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

Last month, the Israeli army took over seven out of eight major West Bank cities after Palestinian militants killed 26 people in two suicide bombings in Jerusalem.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Claire Marshall
"The Israeli government is calling it a terrorist attack"
Claire Marshall reports from Jerusalem
"The bomb did not derail the train"
Israeli government spokesman Raanan Gissin
"About three weeks ago there was a similar attack"

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30 Jun 02 | Middle East
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