Wed, Jul 09, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Blast kills two in West Bank house

LIKELY SUICIDE BOMBING It is becoming clear that some individuals are not going to respect the truce that includes promises from both Hamas and Islamic Jihad not to attack

AP , JERUSALEM

An Israeli border policeman is reflected on a car while he checks the ID of a Greek Orthodox priest driving from Bethlehem into Jerusalem at the Gilo checkpoint yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Israeli police said yesterday that a blast that collapsed a home and killed two people in central Israel was caused by a bombing and was a "terror attack," the first such incident since a Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire was declared last week.

There was, however, no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast and details were still sketchy.

The explosion leveled a house in Kfar Yavetz, an Israeli village near the West Bank, killing the 65-year-old woman who lived there and an unidentified young man.

"We found parts of the bomb, evidence it was a terror attack, possibly a suicide bombing," said police spokesman Gil Kleiman.

Central region police chief Yehuda Bachar said there was a "very, very high probability" that the dead man blew himself up.

"The way the body was scattered ... indicates a suicide bomber," he told Israel Radio.

If confirmed it would be the first such bombing since Palestinian militants declared a ceasefire on June 29.

While the truce has been accepted by most Palestinian groups, some renegade groups within Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction have rejected the ceasefire. Last week, one of these groups claimed responsibility for shooting dead a Bulgarian construction worker near the West Bank town of Jenin.

Despite sporadic violence, the truce has largely held.

On Monday, Palestinian and Israeli Cabinet members discussed a proposal for the Palestinian prime minister to visit Israel's parliament to lobby for a large-scale prisoner release, an effort to resolve a rapidly escalating crisis over the prisoners held by Israel.

Israel's Cabinet approved guidelines on Sunday for freeing several hundred prisoners, but said that members of radical groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad and anyone involved in attacks on Israelis would not be freed. Israel holds some 7,000 Palestinian prisoners, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the new measures call for the release of only about 400 prisoners.

The Cabinet said the move was aimed at strengthening the position of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his allies who support the ceasefire. But Palestinian officials said the release must be expanded.

"This is the first time in the history of the Palestinian movement that all the Palestinian factions have agreed on a ceasefire," Hisham Abdal Raziq, the Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, said at a meeting with the Israeli justice minister, one of numerous such visits in recent days after a freeze of several years.

"This has to be understood and strengthened. How can it be strengthened if you say that you won't release people from Hamas and Islamic Jihad?" he said

Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said, however, that "we will only release prisoners who will commit to keeping peace with us."

The two radical groups have declared only a three-month moratorium on attacks.

At the meeting between Abdal Raziq, Palestinian Justice Minister Abdul Karim Abu Salah and Lapid, the three discussed the idea that Abbas could meet with Lapid's Shinui faction in Israel's parliament to discuss the prisoner release. Shinui is the most moderate group within the coalition government.

Palestinian Information Minis-ter Nabil Amr -- who himself met with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Monday -- said the Palestinians proposed that Abbas and security chief Mohammed Dahlan meet with Israeli Knesset members.

This story has been viewed 2618 times.
TOP top