BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Israel car bomb 'catastrophe' averted
Israeli sappers with suspected getaway car
The vehicles' occupants fled into Israel on foot

Israeli police are hunting for two Palestinian men suspected of trying to bring a 600 kilogram (1,350 pound) car bomb into northern Israel.

The device was discovered inside a van that entered Israel from the West Bank.

Police detonated the bomb, one of the largest ever discovered, and Israel's foreign minister said his country had averted a catastrophe that could have changed the face of the Middle East.

Wreckage from car bomb
Police say the bomb was packed with bits of metal
In Gaza, two attacks have left at least three people dead. An Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian gunman - who was subsequently killed - and another soldier was killed when a bomb exploded under a tank.

Israel is on high alert for a possible new wave of attacks by Palestinian militants during the Jewish New Year holiday which begins on Friday night.

Disaster averted

The car bomb was discovered after civilian volunteers spotted two suspect cars travelling very fast on a winding dirt road leading from the West Bank.

They were heading in the direction of the Israeli town of Hadera, which has been rocked by several suicide bombings and gun attacks in the past two years.


It would have cost such loss of life that it would have changed almost the entire political situation in one moment

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
Police said the explosives, gas canisters and a mobile phone were attached to the fuel tank of the van and would have been detonated by remote control.

Israeli bomb disposal experts blew up the device safely in a controlled explosion.

Police are now combing the area using tracker dogs and helicopters, in the hunt for two men, who are believed to have fled into Israel.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the discovery of the bomb was a "miracle".

Had the bomb gone off "it would have cost such loss of life that it would have changed almost the entire political situation in one moment," Mr Peres told the Associated Press news agency.

The bomb's discovery comes after nearly a month in which no Israelis have been killed by Palestinian militants inside Israel.

Hours earlier Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Israeli television that he saw the possibility of a negotiated peace deal with the Palestinians.

Violence in Gaza

In a separate incident, an Israeli army officer was killed and another soldier slightly injured early on Thursday when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on them in the northern Gaza Strip, an army spokesman said.

Israeli soldiers then rushed to the scene and shot the gunman dead, he added.

Malek Grifat, 24, was named as the dead soldier. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group linked to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the shooting.

In the central Gaza Strip a short time later, an Israeli tank rolled over an explosive device near the Maghazi refugee camp. Israeli media said several people were wounded.

One Israeli soldier was killed and at least three others wounded, the military said.

The Popular Resistance Committee, an umbrella group representing several Palestinian factions said it was behind the attack.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops arrested four wanted Palestinians near the city of Nablus, said to be planning a suicide attack to mark the Jewish holiday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
James Reynolds reports
"According to the police, the car bomb is one of the biggest they have ever found"

Key stories

Profiles

FACTFILE

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

05 Sep 02 | Middle East
04 Sep 02 | Middle East
13 Aug 02 | Middle East
20 Jun 02 | Middle East
16 Jul 02 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes