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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 July, 2004, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Sharon defies court over barrier
A section of Israel's barrier in the West Bank village of Abu Dis on the outskirts of Jerusalem
The World Court said the barrier should be torn down
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered building work to continue on Israel's West Bank barrier, despite a World Court ruling that it is illegal.

Mr Sharon vowed "to fight, using all diplomatic and legal means", against Friday's ruling by the UN's top court.

His statement came hours after a 19-year-old female soldier was killed by a bomb in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

Mr Sharon said the court ruling was one-sided and had encouraged the attack - the first deadly bombing since March.

Five people were seriously injured in the blast, which went off near a bus stop early on Sunday morning. A number of others were treated for shock or light wounds.

While we accept that the government of Israel has the responsibility and duty to protect its citizens, any action it takes has to be in conformity with international law
Kofi Annan
UN Secretary General
Speaking shortly afterwards, Mr Sharon told a cabinet meeting that the perpetrators of the attack had been encouraged by the court's decision.

"The murderous act that was carried out this morning was the first to occur under the patronage of the World Court's decision," he said.

"I want to make clear, the state of Israel absolutely rejects the ruling [of the court]. It is a one-sided and politically motivated ruling."

UN battle ahead

Israel insists the barrier is needed to prevent suicide bombings. Palestinians consider it a land grab.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague, in its non-binding ruling, said the barrier - parts of which encroach on occupied territory - could not be justified by Israeli security concerns and should be torn down.

Bus with windows blown out at scene of blast
Mr Sharon said Sunday's bomb was linked to the court ruling
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Sunday urged Israel to accept the ruling, which is expected to be debated at the UN this week.

"While we accept that the government of Israel has the responsibility and duty to protect its citizens, any action it takes has to be in conformity with international law," he said.

Israel is counting on the US to use its veto in the UN Security Council to block any Palestinian attempts to have the ruling enforced.

The Palestinians plan to seek support in the UN General Assembly but indicated on Sunday that they would not push for a Security Council resolution until after November's presidential elections in the US.

In Sunday's attack, a 2kg (five-pound) bomb containing metal bolts exploded near Tel Aviv's central bus station.

"Suddenly a large boom, a cloud of black and all the bus was covered... the windows blew out," bus driver Eyal Gazit told Israel's Army Radio.

"There were screams... the passengers were jumping over each other trying to escape from the bus."

The militant Palestinian group al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has said it carried out the attack, to avenge the deaths of members killed by Israel.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemned the attack, the first deadly blast in Israel since 14 March, when 10 Israelis were killed in a double suicide bombing in the port city of Ashdod.


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