- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 13, 2002

JERUSALEM Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday canceled a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after a Palestinian girl wrapped with explosives killed six Israelis and wounded at least 80 near a crowded market here.
The bombing occurred just before the start of the Sabbath and only hours after Mr. Powell had met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to seek an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and a political solution to the crisis.
"[The attack] illustrates the exceptionally dangerous situation that exists here and the need for all of us, everyone in the international community, to exert every effort we can to find a solution," Mr. Powell said.
The secretary of state, who arrived in Israel late Thursday after stops in Morocco, Spain and Jordan, viewed the devastation firsthand from a helicopter he had just boarded for a trip to the Lebanese border.
He later canceled a meeting with Mr. Arafat scheduled for today. U.S. officials said the two may meet tomorrow.
The explosion sent body parts and twisted metal flying and left pedestrians and shoppers reeling with shock and anger.
A young Orthodox Jewish woman named Elisheba was nearby buying food for the Sabbath.
"I ran over to see if there was something I could do," said the Michigan-born Israeli, whose sleeve and collar were spattered with blood. "I cradled this girl, and she was just crying and crying and crying.
"There is Jewish blood running in our holy, precious land," she said. "They know when it's the most crowded time. If you want to kill Jews, go to a market on Friday."
Israel Radio identified the suicide bomber as Nidal Daraghmeh, who lived in the Jenin refugee camp, which has been under Israeli attack for the past week.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militia linked to Mr. Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Nidal apparently tried to enter Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market yesterday shortly after 4 p.m. When security stopped her at the entrance, she blew herself up at a bus stop nearby.
It was the second assault this week and the 36th bombing or attempted bombing in Israel since January, according to Israeli police.
U.S. special envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni met late yesterday with Palestinian negotiators in the West Bank town of Jericho, apparently to discuss a Palestinian response to the attack.
In Washington, the White House yesterday repeated demands that Mr. Arafat publicly renounce terrorism and take concrete action to stop the attacks.
But as of last night, neither Mr. Arafat nor any other Palestinian official had issued any statement.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday suggested sending an international force into the region as anti-Israel protests continued throughout the Arab world.
Leaders of Fatah, Hamas and other militant Islamic militias praised the bombing, calling it retribution for the Israel Defense Forces' "massacre" in the Jenin camp, which Palestinians say killed at least 200 persons.
"If Israel thinks that after what they did in Jenin and Nablus they will not be punished, they are mistaken," said Sheik Ahmad Yassin, leader of Hamas. "This is part of the punishment. They should wait and see. More is coming."
The Israeli army said yesterday it would bury fighters from Jenin in mass, unmarked graves on Israeli-controlled land in the Jordan Valley, prompting Palestinian complaints that the army is hiding civilian casualties.
Israel's Supreme Court intervened in the dispute and ordered a halt to the removal of bodies from the camp until it holds a hearing today, at the request of Israeli Arab lawmakers.
Israel has dismissed Palestinian charges of a massacre, with officials putting the Jenin death toll at about 100.
Mr. Powell spent yesterday morning with senior Israeli officials, including Mr. Sharon, who refused to give a timetable for a promised withdrawal from the occupied territories.
The secretary of state also stressed the need to think beyond the halting of hostilities to building a political relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
"We have to take note of the long-term strategic consequences of the incursions that are under way, and their effect on the nations in the region and the international climate," Mr. Powell told reporters after his meeting with Mr. Sharon.
"I hope we can find a way to come to an agreement on this point of the duration of the operations and get back to a track that will lead to a political settlement because I think that is uppermost in everyone's mind how can we go forward?" he said.


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