- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2002

SAFED, Israel A suicide bomber detonated an explosive on a packed morning commuter bus near the northern city of Safed, killing nine and wounding about 50, in the deadliest of a wave of attacks yesterday by Palestinian militants throughout Israel and the West Bank.
The Islamic militant organization Hamas said the bus bombing was the second in a series of revenge attacks for Israel's assassination of its military chief in the Gaza Strip last month.
"There are a few killers who want to stop the peace process that we have started. We must not let them," said President Bush yesterday, speaking to reporters before teeing off for a round of golf with his father, former President George Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers," he added, wagging his finger.
Like its attack on a Hebrew University cafeteria Wednesday, the bombing yesterday demonstrated Hamas' ability to reach new targets despite Israel's one-month reoccupation of cities throughout the West Bank.
The bomb went off about 8:30 a.m. as the vehicle, filled with students and soldiers, pulled up to a bus stop at a pastoral road junction surrounded by the mountains of the Upper Galilee. The Egged cooperative 361 line originated in Haifa and made its way to Safed, stopping in Jewish and Arab towns along one of the northernmost highways in the country. The fatalities included two Israeli Arabs, two Philippine workers and one ultra-Orthodox Jew.
Later in the morning, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on an Israeli phone company vehicle outside Jerusalem's Old City, killing one and wounding two others. In the ensuing shootout, a Palestinian resident of east Jerusalem and the gunman were killed, and it was reported that eight were injured. In the afternoon, two Israeli cars came under attack on West Bank roads near Tulkarm and Ramallah. Seven persons were reported to be wounded.
In the past 24 hours, 18 persons have been killed in a half-dozen incidents:
Israeli soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip shot and killed an armed Palestinian dressed in a wet suit as he came ashore along the Mediterranean coast. The would-be assailant, armed with an automatic rifle and grenades, apparently swam along the coastline before emerging near Jewish settlements, the army said.
Four Israeli soldiers were wounded, three of them seriously, when a roadside bomb damaged their jeep outside the West Bank city of Ramallah.
In the northern West Bank, three Israelis were wounded in a shooting ambush, according to Yehoshua Mor-Yosef, a spokesman for the Jewish settlers. Two of the wounded were soldiers and one was a civilian, he said.
Early today, Palestinians opened fire on a car traveling on the main road through the West Bank, between Ramallah and Nablus, killing an Israeli couple and wounding two of their children, the military said.
Also today, Israeli troops fatally shot two Palestinians, including a fugitive local leader of Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, in the village of Borqa north of Nablus, relatives said.
The worst day of attacks in more than a month against Israelis is fueling a growing sense of helplessness in the country that the almost daily attacks cannot be stopped.
"We can't delude ourselves that there will be a routine way of life," said Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, a member of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party, in an interview with Israel Television. The mayor said Israel still can expand strikes against militants and should build a security perimeter for Jerusalem, though it will reduce terrorism at best.
The explosion ripped the ceiling of the bus upward and blew out about seven rows of seats on its right side. Witnesses said bodies were flung in the air from the explosion while others were left trapped under the bus seats. The ground around the bus was littered with debris and rubber medical globes that obscured personal articles such as a lone hair band and a compact-disc cover.
"I saw the bus door fly off to the right and the ceiling fly to the left," said Tomer Gane, a 29-year-old attendant at a nearby gas station. "One person was left decapitated."
Ariyeh Shankar, a 22-year-old soldier who was brought to the hospital in Safed with eye and neck injuries, said he didn't remember the explosion. "I just remember them putting me on the ground and into the ambulance," he said, "I thought I was in a dream."
Like the Hebrew University bombing, the attack undermined Israeli assumptions that Palestinian militants wouldn't select targets where Israeli Arabs could be victims.
The northern Galilee is an idyllic region of the country's largest mountains, where residents of neighboring Jewish and Israeli Arab towns say relations have remained friendly.
The bombing shattered the calm in the region and spurred speculation that the militants could target an area so far from the West Bank only with the aid of Israeli Arabs.
"It's very troubling that it's reaching the quieter areas," said Haim Iskovitch, a police volunteer who resides in a nearby village. "It's not something that we're used to."
After the attacks, Mr. Sharon delayed a meeting with Palestinian Cabinet ministers aimed at discussing measures to ease the hardship of Palestinians.

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