- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2001

RAMALLAH, West Bank In a fresh outbreak of violence, seven persons were killed in a bomb attack in northern Israel and shootings in the West Bank yesterday as U.S. peace envoy Anthony Zinni met Palestinian negotiators.
Three Israelis were killed and six wounded, two critically, when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in Israel's north, police chief Shlomo Aharonishki said.
Eyewitness Emanuel Biton was driving behind the bus and said he saw the bomb "rip the bus into pieces, and things were flying everywhere." The 9 p.m. blast blew the sides and roof off the green-and-white intercity bus. It lay in a tangle of twisted metal next to a fence encircling a military base.
Gen. Zinni condemned the Palestinian bus bombing in northern Israel last night, warning that the attacks must stop if a new peace drive were to succeed. "I want to strongly condemn tonight's attack in Hadera. I have offered my personal condolences to Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon," Gen. Zinni said in a statement issued by the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem.
In the Palestinian refugee camp in the nearby West Bank town of Jenin, from where several previous suicide bombers have begun their deadly missions, about 3,000 people marched and celebrated after the bus attack, witnesses said. They chanted, "Sharon, prepare the body bags."
The bomber was Samar Abu Suleiman, 32, an Islamic Jihad member from Jenin, according to sources in the militant group.
On board a plane just before takeoff for the United States, Mr. Sharon said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is "directly responsible" for the upsurge in Palestinian attacks. He said Israel "will not undertake negotiations in any form until there is quiet and until Arafat fights terror."
He said he considered canceling his trip but decided to go to Washington and explain Israel's position.
The violence greatly complicated the efforts of Gen. Zinni, who is trying to facilitate a previously agreed truce.
Tension has been high in the region since Israel killed a leading Hamas militant a week ago today, sparking several revenge attacks, including an outbreak of shooting by Palestinians in the northern Israeli town of Afula on Tuesday.
Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner blamed Mr. Arafat for yesterday's bus attack, even though the Palestinian Authority in recent dayshad implored militant groups not to stage attacks in Israel.
"These terrorist attacks are the means by which the Palestinian Authority undermines the peace mission of Gen. Zinni," Mr. Pazner said. "This is a very serious escalation, the responsibility for which is entirely on the Palestinian Authority."
In Ramallah, where Gen. Zinni had been meeting with Palestinian leaders yesterday, the Palestinian leadership issued a statement "condemning all the terror attacks that are targeting civilians from both sides."
The statement promised "every possible effort to cease fire [and] follow and arrest all those who violate the leadership decision."
Earlier yesterday, Israeli soldiers opened fire on a Palestinian car at a West Bank roadblock in the Jordan River Valley, witnesses said. Two Palestinians were killed the driver of a car that approached the barrier and did a high-speed U-turn as soldiers opened fire, and a bystander, witnesses said. The military issued a statement expressing regret for the death of the bystander.
In another part of the West Bank, an Israeli was killed and another seriously wounded when Palestinians opened fire on a checkpoint from a moving car, military and hospital officials said. The incident took place near Baka al-Sharkiyeh, a Palestinian town just across the line between the West Bank and Israel.
Israeli forces also cut roads to the West Bank city of Hebron, preventing Palestinians from entering or leaving, witnesses said.
The violence preceded Mr. Sharon's departure for the United States for talks with President Bush and other U.S. officials.
In an address yesterday to newspaper and broadcast editors, Mr. Sharon repeated his main condition for a truce deal: a week without Palestinian attacks.
"It will be seven days, not one hour less," he said, charging that Mr. Arafat has built a "coalition of terror" to confront Israel.


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