- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

JERUSALEM - A suicide bomber set off an explosion at a busy intersection in northern Israel yesterday, failing to kill anyone other than himself but intensifying already heavy American and Israeli pressure on Yasser Arafat.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said a string of recent bombings are “destroying his (Arafat's) authority and credibility,'' and Vice President Richard B. Cheney told NBC's “Meet the Press'' that “until Arafat demonstrates that he is serious about suicide attackers, there won't be progress.''
The United States and Israel have demanded that Mr. Arafat do more to stop terrorists; the Palestinian leader says he is already cracking down on them and that 180 have been arrested. So long as the terrorism continues, Israel says its incursions into Palestinian territory are necessary.
In the West Bank yesterday, Israeli soldiers killed five Palestinians and detained 30 suspected militants in raids on two villages.
American diplomatic efforts hit a rough patch as U.S. envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni told Israeli and Palestinian security officials that if they didn't make real progress in the next 48 hours, he would consider leaving the region, one Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli said Gen. Zinni - who arrived in Israel just two weeks ago, saying he would stay as long as it took to restore calm and restart peace talks - stood up and left talks between the two sides after issuing his ultimatum.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Paul Patin declined to comment on the meeting yesterday afternoon at Jerusalem's King David Hotel, other than to say the United States planned to convene another in a few days.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned after the botched bombing in the northern port city of Haifa that Israeli strikes on the Palestinian territories were likely to intensify.
“In light of what is going on, we will apparently have to increase our (military) activity,'' he said.
The Haifa bombing, which killed the attacker and slightly injured 11 bystanders, came exactly a week after another suicide bomber detonated himself on a bus there, killing 15.
That attack and one that killed 11 in Jerusalem the night before set off a new crisis, prompting Israel to strike Palestinian police and security installations.
An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sunday's bomber had intended to set off two explosions, one to draw rescue workers to the scene and then a larger bomb strapped to his body.
Instead, he blew himself up when police confronted him. Emergency workers found a second bomb hours later and detonated it in a controlled explosion.
Palestinian security sources identified the attacker as Nimr Abu Sayfien, 20, from the town of Yamoun in the northern West Bank.
About 3,000 people marched through Yamoun later to show support for Abu Sayfien's family, some shouting “Intefadeh until victory!''
The bomber's father, Muhammad, said his son rose early for the pre-dawn meal customary during the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan, then told his parents he was leaving to look for work in Israel.
Later, the father said, the family found a note under his pillow saying he was a member of the radical group Islamic Jihad and was planning to attack Haifa as revenge for Israel's killing 10 days ago of Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, a top militant of the Hamas group.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas has said it carried out the earlier bombings in Haifa and Jerusalem.
Mr. Arafat, interviewed by The Associated Press at his Ramallah headquarters Saturday night, called on the United States to press Israel to stop assaults on the Palestinians and pledged to continue a crackdown on militants.
The Bush administration seemed unimpressed.
Mr. Cheney said the Palestinians “are led by someone who can't control terrorists.''
“It's not surprising given that level of violence and those repeated attacks that the Israelis take steps to defend themselves,'' he said. “They have a right to do so.''
Mr. Powell, speaking with reporters as he flew to Moscow from Kazakstan in Central Asia, said both sides had taken unhelpful actions.
But, he added, “I think the burden right now is on Mr. Arafat to do more to get the violence down to zero. … The Palestinian people ought to asking their leaders, 'Where does this take us?'''
In the West Bank, Israeli forces entered the Palestinian town of Anabta and killed four Palestinian policemen in a gunfight, said Izzadine al-Shariff, governor of the nearby town of Tulkarem. An army statement said troops were conducting searches and arresting “people engaged in terrorist activity.''
Anabta Mayor Hamdallah Hamdallah told the Palestinian news agency Wafa that the four were shot “in cold blood.'' The army said the Palestinians had opened fire on the soldiers and the soldiers returned fire.
Palestinians said Israeli forces briefly took over two floors of the village council building. Hamdallah said Israeli forces arrested 25 people in the town.
In another incursion, Israeli soldiers detained five Palestinians in the village of Ramin, the military said. One was wounded.
Israeli soldiers fatally shot a Palestinian taxi driver near Jenin, Palestinians said. They said he was trying to enter Jenin, which Israel's army has sealed off. The Israeli military had no comment.
An Israeli was seriously injured in a roadside ambush near the West Bank settlement of Naaleh, west of Ramallah, settlers said. Bullets hit his car 13 times and struck him in the neck, they added.
In 14 months of violence, 807 people have been killed on the Palestinian side - a figure that includes 31 suicide bombers - and 232 people have been killed on the Israeli side.

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