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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Israel bomb exploded 'prematurely'
Police van after suicide attack
The explosion ripped through a police van
The militant group Islamic Jihad has said it carried out the suicide bombing at a bus stop in northern Israel that killed an Israeli policeman.

"The Jerusalem Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, announces its responsibility for the heroic martyrdom operation that took place in the town of Umm al-Fahm," the group said in a statement.

This operation is a natural response to enemy crimes against our defenceless people

Islamic Jihad Statement

The attack came after a six week lull in Palestinian suicide bombings.

In continuing low-level violence, a 10-year-old Palestinian child was gunned down by an Israeli tank in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Thursday.

The boy was shot in the chest after he went outside to buy cigarettes for his father, the child's mother said.

Premature blast

Wednesday's suicide attack was triggered prematurely, the Jerusalem Brigades statement said.

The bomber was said to have detonated his explosives when police stopped him on his way to a "Zionist target".

Islamic Jihad said the blast was a message to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the 20th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres that the Palestinian resistance is not over.


For there to be progress, there must be an absolute end to terror and violence

Ariel Sharon
An Israeli inquiry found Mr Sharon responsible for the slaughter in the Beirut camps, which saw Israeli-backed Lebanese Christian militiamen kill hundreds of Palestinians.

"This operation is a natural response to enemy crimes against our defenceless people. It is not the first, and it will not be the last," the group said.

At a recent meeting of Palestinian factions, some groups called for attacks to be restricted to the occupied territories.

Peace plan

Although it was the first suicide attack in Israel in more than a month, the Israeli authorities in recent weeks have apprehended a number of suspected bombers trying to enter the Jewish state.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Mr Sharon said the Palestinians had to act first against violence

The attack came shortly after Mr Sharon demanded a total cessation of violence before any start to a fresh peace plan proposed by international leaders.

But Palestinians have responded cautiously to the outlining of a "road map to a Palestinian state", announced by senior officials from an international quartet - the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia.

Quartet plan
Phase 1 (2003): Palestinian elections, security reform, Israel pull back, humanitarian initiatives, security agreement
Phase 2: Palestinian state created
Phase 3 (2004-2005): Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on permanent status solution

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said he saw Israeli troop withdrawals as the key beginning for reforms and moves towards peace.

Mr Sharon said the only hope for the latest peace plan put forward by the international community would be for the Palestinians to end all attacks and reform their security forces.

"For there to be progress, there must be an absolute end to terror and violence," he told a cabinet meeting.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Barbara Plett reports from Jerusalem
"According to Israeli Radio, he appeared to have detonated his explosives prematurely when he saw police approaching.

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18 Sep 02 | Middle East
17 Sep 02 | Middle East
05 Sep 02 | Middle East
10 Sep 02 | Middle East
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