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Israeli bus stop blast: one dead, 20 wounded
Updated: 2004-07-11 15:55

A bomb exploded next to a Tel Aviv bus station Sunday, killing one woman and wounding wounded 20 others two days after the World Court ruled that Israel's West Bank barrier is illegal.

Ambulances stand by at the scene of a bomb attack, at upper right, next to a bus stop in southern Tel Aviv Sunday July 11, 2004. An explosion ripped through the bus stop early Sunday, killing one person and wounding 20 others, police said. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack, Israel Radio reported. [Reuters]

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the Tel Aviv attack, saying it came in response to Israel's killing of Palestinian militants and civilians.

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

Hospital officials said one woman was killed in the explosion, the first bombing in Israel since March when two suicide bombers slipped out of the Gaza Strip and killed 10 Israelis in the strategic port of Ashdod.

Shutters on the building adjacent to the blast were torn off and windows in shops, homes and a bus shattered over the sidewalk and street.

"This was not a suicide bomber but a device planted next to the bus station in a bunch of weeds," Tel Aviv police chief Sedbon told Israel Radio, adding that at least 14 people were wounded.

Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim said that it was likely that Palestinians who planted the bomb slipped into Israel from the West Bank in places where the barrier of razor-tipped fences and cement walls has yet to be constructed.

"Following the World Court decision the attack is not so ironic as it was likely. The attack is proof of what we knew all along, that the high motivation of the Palestinian militants has not diminished," Boim told Army Radio.

Blast to avenge

The al-Aqsa Brigades told Reuters that the blast came to avenge the "assassinations" of two top commanders and the killings of other Palestinians in Israeli army incursions in Gaza and the West Bank this year.

Israelis leave the bus stop in Tel Aviv where a bomb exploded this morning July 11, 2004. A bomb exploded next to an Israeli bus station on Sunday, killing one woman and wounding 20 people two days after the World Court ruled that Israel's West Bank barrier is illegal. [Reuters]

The United Nations' highest tribunal, the World Court, issued a non-binding opinion Friday that the partially built barrier, which cuts into the West Bank, was illegal and should be dismantled.

Israel says the barrier is necessary to keep suicide bombers -- who have killed scores of Israelis since the start of the latest bout of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities in September 2000 -- out of its cities.

Palestinians denounce the barrier as a grab for land in territory that Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel's High Court last week ordered one segment of the barrier re-routed to avoid cutting off Palestinian villagers from farms, jobs, public services and cities but ruled Israel had a right to built it on security grounds.

Boim said he hoped after the new route was determined vigorous construction would ensue for the barrier's completion.

Only the 15-nation Security Council can take action on the World Court ruling, but as a permanent member, Israel's ally the United States can veto it.

Israel asked Washington Saturday to block any U.N. Security Council resolution that would act on the ruling, hailed by Arafat as "a sign the world supports the Palestinians in rejecting this wall."

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