Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Israel Vows Vengeance for Passover Massacre

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Israel Vows Vengeance for Passover Massacre

Article excerpt


ISRAEL has vowed fierce reprisals after at least 19 people were killed and over 100 were wounded, 24 seriously, when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a Netanya hotel.

The Palestinian last night walked into the dining room of the hotel, in the centre of the coastal city, where a large number of people were participating in the Passover service, and detonated an explosive device.

The bomber entered the hotel through its main door, at the time when the armed guard was carrying out a security check of the hotel grounds, Israel Radio reported. He was carrying a large bag which apparently contained the explosive device.

The islamic militant group Hamas took responsibility for the attack. The group identified the bomber as Abdel-Basset Odeh, a member of its military wing, the Iz a Din al-Kassam Brigades, from the West Bank city of Tul Karm, which is six miles from Netanya.

"It is a jihad, victory or martyrdom," Hamas said in the statement.

Israel's leaders were outraged at the audacity of the attack on people who were celebrating one of the holiest and most sacred Jewish holidays.

Gideon Meir, an Israeli government spokesman, called the attack a "Passover massacre".

Israel vowed a hard response, and officials suggested that the mission of General Anthony Zinni, the US mediator working here to negotiate a ceasefire, had been severely undermined.

But in Washington, the State Department said General Zinni would remain in the area and continue working.

President Bush called the attack "cold-blooded killing" and said such "callous" acts must stop.

The attack came as Arab leaders met in Beirut to discuss Saudi Arabia's plan for peace in the region, a plan that Hamas officials have said they reject.

The attack was timed to deal a blow to the peace initiatives.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack, saying it was intended to undermine the Zinni mission and the Arab summit meeting. On television earlier today, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, praised his people for their uprising against Israel but insisted: "We are against killing civilians on both sides. …

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