Fears of Similar Attacks After Suicide Bombing at Gaza Police Post
Oct. 26 - A Palestinian cyclist blew himself up at an Israeli army post,
injuring a soldier in the Gaza Strip today in the first suicide attack in
almost a month of clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli
The militant Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The incident came after an overnight meeting between Israeli and
Palestinian security forces to try to pave the way for an end to the
violence that has claimed more than 130 lives, mostly Palestinians.
Although details of the meetings were not disclosed, the Israeli
general in charge in the Gaza Strip today said he was heartened with the
dialogue. "There was a more optimistic tone that was completely different
from all the other meetings we had in the past month," Major-General
Yom-Tov Samia, Israel's southern commander, told Army Radio.
The suicide attack, which occurred on the main north-south Gaza road
near an army post guarding the entrance to the Kissufim Jewish settlement,
followed two days of relative calm in the Palestinian-ruled areas of the
West Bank and Gaza that saw sporadic exchanges of gunfire, but no deaths
for the first time in a week.
Maj.-General Yom-Tov Samia, Israel's southern commander responsible
for the Gaza Strip, blamed the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat
for not preventing the suicide attack.
But in a interview broadcast on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, Arafat
dismissed the notion that he could control the violence that has rocked
the region for the past four weeks. "There is no switch for all the
people, small children, youth, students," he told ABCNEWS' Diane Swayer.
"They are very angry."
The suicide bombing has reinforced fears of guerrilla attacks in Israel
itself and heightened concern that the conflict could enter a dangerous
Israeli military officials had said Islamic militants might try to
carry out suicide attacks. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance
movements have killed scores of people inside Israel in such attacks in
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for today's attack.
The army said the cyclist appeared to be a youth carrying a satchel
or book bag. Initial reports said he might have been shot dead after
placing the bomb, but the army said later he had been killed in the blast.
"It seems like the [attacker] was a teenager. Based on the size of
the body it doesn't look like we are talking about an adult," said Samia.
"If this is true then this is more than a cynical use of children...but
the use of a schoolboy with a book bag who rides his bike and blows
himself up on an outpost wall," Samia told Israel Radio.
However, the Islamic Jihad has said the suicide bomber was a
On Wednesday, President Clinton said neither Arafat nor Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak were completely in control of the situation.
"I think the violence can be dramatically reduced. I think that there
are probably some people within the Palestinian territories and probably
some people within Israel that are not within total control of Chairman
Arafat or even the Israeli government," Clinton said. "But I do think
Chairman Arafat can dramatically reduce the level of violence," he said.
During an interview with Diane Sawyer on PrimeTime Thursday, Arafat
said that it would be impossible for him to turn off Palestinian violence,
saying that there is "no switch for the people," nor their emotions.
Earlier, Clinton raised the possibility of holding separate meetings
in Washington with Barak and Arafat if the truce that he brokered last
week at a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt finally took effect.
Speaking at a New York fund-raiser and 53rd birthday celebration for
his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday, the president said the
United States will continue to stand by Israel.
He said dealing with the Middle East problem "takes about half of
every day I have now, and most of the nights."
P.J. Crowley, spokesman for the White House National Security
Council, said Clinton spoke by telephone with Arafat for 30 minutes on
Tuesday. Another U.S. official said Clinton also called Barak.
"The president raised the possibility of the leaders coming here to
Washington," Crowley said, adding that Arafat and Barak would "come
The meetings would be held "within the context of seeing progress on
full implementation of Sharm," he said.
This week, Barak has been trying to cobble an emergency national coalition
government with right-wing politician Ariel Sharon, who heads the
opposition Likud party.
Sharon is widely held responsible for sparking off the clashes with
his controversial visit September 28 to a Jerusalem site considered sacred
to both Muslims and Jews.
Most experts believe that if Barak does succeed in convincing Sharon
to form an emergency government, a resumption of the peace talks is
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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