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Tel Aviv bomb kills 1, proves barrier need -Sharon
Updated: 2004-07-12 10:41

A Palestinian bomb killed a woman at a bus stop in Israel on Sunday in an attack Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said proved the need to continue building a West Bank barrier declared illegal by the World Court.

In his first public comments on Friday's non-binding opinion by the U.N.'s top legal body, Sharon said the bombing was carried out "under the auspices of the ruling," suggesting the decision would only encourage Palestinian violence.

"I want to make clear, the state of Israel absolutely rejects the ruling of the International Court of Justice at the Hague," Sharon said.

"It is a one-sided and politically motivated ruling."

He later ordered that construction of the barrier continue in line with a precedent-setting ruling by Israel's High Court.

The court ruled on June 30 that parts of the barrier must be re-routed to minimize hardship to Palestinian civilians. It also issued an interim injunction on Sunday banning construction of the barrier near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel.

In Bangkok, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Israel should accept the World Court ruling despite its security needs.

"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.

Sharon said after the bombing at a bus stop in Tel Aviv during the morning rush hour that the construction of the 370-mile barrier "is the most reasonable measure to take against this criminal terrorism."

Israeli hospital officials said a 19-year-old female soldier was killed and about 14 civilians were wounded in the blast, which occurred as a public bus pulled up to the stop.

"I heard a massive explosion and ran to the scene," said Hagit Cohen, who lives one block away from the bus stop. "I thought it was the end of the world."

The attack, claimed by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was the first such Palestinian attack in Israel since March and departed from a pattern of suicide bombings.

Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat condemned "the targeting of civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli."


Israeli officials have said the 120 miles of the West Bank barrier completed so far have made it hard for suicide bombers to reach Israel and have prevented scores of attacks.

In a decision hailed by Palestinians, the World Court said the network of razor wire-tipped fences and towering cement walls snaking through occupied land in the West Bank violated international humanitarian law and should be torn down.

The project has separated thousands of Palestinians from their fields, schools and medical services -- hardship which Israeli leaders say is outweighed by the protection from suicide bombers the barrier will offer people in the Jewish state.

The World Court's decision heightened Israeli concern about sanctions although its ally, the United States, has vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions against Israel in the past.

A spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana suggested the EU was not in favor of sanctions. "This is not the type of language we use on a political issue," she said.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that Israel had asked Washington to intervene to prevent any U.N. moves against it.

The United States has dismissed the U.N. court's intervention and the American judge on the 15-nation World Court panel wrote in his dissenting opinion that the court did not have "the requisite factual basis for its sweeping findings."

Israel did not present a defense to the court.

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