Deadly Bus Attack Ends Short Period of Calm for Israelis
July 7, 2008
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Nearly a month of relative calm for Israelis ended abruptly on Tuesday with a deadly terror attack. It happened a few hours before international officials met in New York to discuss Middle East peace.
Seven people were killed and at least 15 wounded, some seriously, in a Palestinian ambush on an Israeli bus near the entrance to the settlement of Immanuel.
"A roadside device detonated as a bus was passing near the Immanuel settlement, and shooting then followed," police spokesman Rafi Yaffe was quoted as saying.
TV reports said the bulletproof bus came to a halt after at least one bomb exploded on the side of the road. As passengers got off the bus, three terrorists dressed as Israeli soldiers opened fire at close range.
The attack was very similar to another attack on the same bus line at the same point seven months ago. Eleven people were killed in that attack and 30 more injured.
The ultra-Orthodox religious community of Immanuel is situated between the PA cities of Nablus and Kalkilya.
Both the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade linked with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Al-Aksa Brigades said three of its members had carried out the attack and had not been injured.
Israel blamed the PA.
"It was a vicious attack against civilian bus 189 bringing people home," said David Baker, an official in the prime minister's office of Tuesday's attack. "The Palestinians continue to target Israeli civilians."
Baker would not comment on a possible Israeli reaction. "Obviously it confirmed what we already knew - that the PA continues to engage in deadly attacks," he said.
It was the first "successful" terror attack against an Israeli target, since Israel took control of seven out of eight PA cities nearly a month ago. Israel launched Operation Determined Path following two suicide bombings in Jerusalem that left 26 people dead.
Advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dr. Ra'anan Gissin, said in a television interview that the relative calm Israel has experience over the last month was a result of the military operation.
Tuesday's attack, he said, indicated that there was "no other measure" available to Israel except to be deployed in the PA areas.
Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on Monday that there were 12 suicide bombers in the PA areas who were ready to carry out an attack. The Defense Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that there are warnings of attacks, but nothing specific.
According to radio reports, Israeli security forces arrested a woman in Jenin on Tuesday morning. She is suspected of intending to blow herself up in a suicide attack.
Over the weekend, Israeli troops nabbed a car packed with four powerful bombs, gas canisters and three containers of nails, bolts and sharp objects that was heading toward the Kalkilya exit with its lights off.
Tuesday's attack happened just hours before Secretary of State Colin Powell was due to meet in New York with senior United Nations, European Union and Russian officials to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reforms in the PA.
Talks were also planned later between ministers of the "quartet" and Jordanian, Egyptian and Saudi officials. Those Arab states are involved to varying degrees in the peace process.
Washington and Israel believe that Arafat must step aside before any real reforms can happen. But other international negotiators disagree.
Prior to the meeting Powell said he would back a plan whereby Arafat would be "kicked upstairs" - retaining a symbolic position, while the government was run by others.
But Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rdeinah warned the U.S. it was the "right of the Palestinian people, to choose [its] leader." He was also quoted as saying that the PA demanded the "quartet" pressure Israel to withdraw from the PA areas.
E-mail a news tip to Julie Stahl.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.