A Palestinian suicide bomber struck a packed fast-food restaurant during
Passover on Monday, killing nine people and wounding dozens in the deadliest
bombing in more than a year.
In a sharp departure from the previous Palestinian government's condemnations
of bombings, the Hamas-led administration defended the attack as a legitimate
response to Israeli "aggression."
civilians get first aid, following a suicide attack at Tel Aviv's old
central bus station on April 17, 2006. A suspected Palestinian suicide
bomber killed nine people at a sandwich stand in the Israeli city of
Tel Aviv on Monday and wounded dozens more, medics said.
The bloodshed and the hard-line stance could set the stage for harsh Israeli
reprisals and endanger Hamas' efforts to secure desperately needed international
aid and acceptance.
Israel said it held Hamas responsible for the attack in Tel Aviv even though
a separate group, Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility. Islamic Jihad has close
ties to Israel's archenemy, Iran.
"Hamas' constant preaching for the destruction of Israel serves as a catalyst
for these attacks," said David Baker, an Israeli government spokesman.
Israel's security chiefs met Monday and were expected to recommend stepped-up
operations against Islamic Jihad, security officials said. Israeli officials
were to decide on a response Tuesday.
In an initial response, Israeli aircraft attacked an empty metal workshop in
Gaza City early Tuesday, causing no injuries. The army said the workshop was
used by the Popular Resistance Committee's militant group to manufacture
homemade rockets to launch at Israel.
The Palestinian suicide attack took place just two hours before Israel's
newly elected parliament was sworn into office, and Prime Minister-designate
Ehud Olmert said Israel would react with appropriate means.
The moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah party,
condemned the suicide bombing and said he had ordered Palestinian security
forces to prevent future attacks.
"These kinds of attacks harm the Palestinian interest, and we as an authority
and government must move to stop it," Abbas said. "We will not stop pursuing
anyone who carries out such attacks."
But Abbas is currently in a power struggle with Hamas, and it remains unclear
who is ultimately in charge of the Palestinians' security forces.