NETANYA, Israel (AP) “” A teenage Palestinian suicide bomber killed three Israelis and wounded at least 30 others in front of a crowded shopping mall in this seaside city, the first such attack in nearly five months and a blow to a truce that has revived peace hopes….
Among the wounded was a 6-year-old girl who was badly burned, Israel TV reported. Two women were killed instantly, and a third died several hours later of her wounds, according to Israel Radio.
Israel blamed the militant Islamic Jihad, which has continued its attacks against Israelis despite a truce declared in February, and police linked the explosion to a failed car bomb attack a few minutes earlier in the West Bank.
Israeli police and Palestinian security identified the bomber as Ahmed Abu Khalil, an 18-year-old member of Islamic Jihad from the West Bank village of Atil, about eight miles east of Netanya.
Police said the two dead Israelis were women. Doron Shafir, one of the first paramedics at the scene, said he saw a woman whose clothes were on fire. “Another, her handbag was burning. We stepped on it to put it out. She was just sitting there. She did not know what was happening to her,” he said.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not comment after the bombing. David Baker, an official in Sharon’s office, said the Palestinian Authority was not doing enough to rein in militants.
It was unlikely the truce would collapse, however. Both sides have an interest in not walking away from their agreement. Sharon needs to maintain calm to carry out his Gaza withdrawal this summer, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ political survival depends on maintaining the cease-fire, seen as key to easing harsh Israeli restrictions in the Palestinian areas….
Abbas used unusually strong language in denouncing the bombing.
“We condemn this terrorist attack. It’s a crime against the Palestinian people,” he said. “Those traitors are working against the Palestinian interest. There is no rational man who can do those things on the eve of the Israeli withdrawal from 22 settlements,” referring to Israel’s planned pullout from Gaza and part of the West Bank.
Right. They’re getting what they want peacefully; why bother with suicide bombings?