JERUSALEM A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up near a crowded train station in Israel yesterday, killing two Israelis and wounding four other persons in a “savage” attack blamed on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Israel responded by shelling Palestinian police posts in two West Bank towns.
The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the blast, which ripped through the station in the northern Israeli town of Binyamina, and came a day after Mr. Arafat met with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres for talks on the surging Middle East violence.
“The suicide attack in Binyamina shows that the Palestinian Authority has not yet decided to fight or act against terrorism,” Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah games, or Jewish olympics, in Jerusalem.
He denounced the “savage” attack, the first bomb blast in Israel to claim Israeli lives since 21 persons were killed by a suicide bomber at a Tel Aviv nightclub on June 1.
Islamic Jihad identified the bomber as Nidal Shadouf, 21, from Burkin, a village near Jenin.
In apparent retaliation, Israel shelled the eastern part of Jenin, witnesses said. There were no reports of casualties.
Israeli tank fire also hit Tulkarem. Witnesses said an electrical transformer was knocked out, causing a blackout.
Sheik Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of the radical Hamas movement, told reporters in the Gaza Strip that the Palestinian armed struggle against the Jewish state would go on.
“While Israeli aggression and Israeli killing and the Israeli siege against Palestinian people continue, our people will continue in their resistance and jihad until our land is liberated,” said Mr. Yassin, whose group is violently opposed to the peace process between Mr. Arafat and Israel.
But Mr. Arafat’s international cooperation minister, Nabil Shaath, said: “We condemn military operations against civilians, Palestinian or Israeli. It’s very bad for the peace process and only helps only the enemies of peace.”
A Sharon aide said that Mr. Arafat’s forces were working in close cooperation with radical groups including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Lebanese Hezbollah to forge a “consortium of terror.”
“There is no question that Yasser Arafat is responsible for what is going on,” Dore Gold said, adding Israel had been subject to 10 similar attacks since a would-be “cease-fire” was declared in June 13. “The international community cannot expect the Jewish people to be butchered on a daily basis.”
Two Palestinian militants were killed early yesterday when they were apparently about to plant a bomb near the Jerusalem stadium where the opening ceremony of the games was taking place.
Mr. Arafat told reporters in Gaza after returning yesterday from the meeting with Mr. Peres that he was pessimistic about any end to the violence, which has left more than 650 people dead since late September.
But earlier in the day, the Palestinian preventative security chief for the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, urged a halt to attacks inside Israel.
“I hope that the Palestinian political factions would have a sense of responsibility and maturity regarding actions inside Israel, and that these would stop because it is not in our interests, it does not serve us,” he told Voice of Palestine radio.
The Maccabiah Games had been threatened with cancellation because of security jitters, but organizers decided at the last minute to go ahead, although there is a large no-show by athletes from abroad.