- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 10, 2002

From combined dispatches
JERUSALEM A Palestinian suicide bomber transformed a crowded cafe into a mass of maimed bodies last night, killing at least 12 people in an attack across the street from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's walled compound.
By early today, Israel had destroyed Yasser Arafat's seaside office in Gaza and some ministers were calling for all-out war.
The compound, where Mr. Arafat received world leaders and held many news conferences, was empty at the time of the attack. Mr. Arafat himself has been trapped in the West Bank city of Ramallah by Israeli forces for more than three months.
Witnesses in Gaza City described a massive explosion that shook walls and broke windows around the neighborhood, as the building itself collapsed.
The retaliatory attack came at the end of a day of carnage on both sides; 14 Israelis and six Palestinians died by nightfall.
The bloodshed ranged from a Palestinian gun-and-grenade rampage on the Mediterranean seafront that killed a 9-month-old Israeli girl, to the shooting deaths of two Palestinians, including a 15-year-old girl, in the densely packed refugee camps near Bethlehem.
There was a flurry of peace moves in Western and Arab capitals during much of yesterday, but after the two Palestinian attacks some Israeli Cabinet ministers began calling for all-out war.
"We must keep up the attacks by land, sea and air until they ask for a cease-fire," Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Israel TV as he inspected the remains of the Moment cafe in Jerusalem. "We must not stop the attacks of the closures until they reach the situation that the civilians there ask their leaders to draw the right conclusions."
An Israeli government spokesman charged the suicide attacks were aimed at sabotaging U.S. peace envoy Anthony Zinni's upcoming visit to the region.
The Palestinians had made the same accusation when the army on Thursday invaded the Tulkarem area. Israeli troops and tanks pulled out last night, having captured hundreds of Palestinian men.
Mr. Sharon called his senior ministers together for consultations before the regular weekly Cabinet session this morning, Israel TV reported. Several ministers called for stiff action.
In the Jerusalem bombing, the assailant walked into the cafe, which is frequented by young Israelis, and detonated explosives, said Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy. Mr. Sharon was not at the residence in the central Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia.
"There was a huge explosion, simply atomic," said one of the cafe's patrons, who gave only his first name, Eran. "There was smoke everywhere and an acrid smell of gunpowder. People were screaming."
In competing claims, the militant Islamic group Hamas and the Al Aqsa Brigrides, a militia linked to Mr. Arafat's Fatah movement, both said they were responsible for the bombing. Both groups have carried out suicide bombings previously, and Hamas called it "the beginning of retaliatory activities for Sharon's war on the [Palestinian] refugee camps."
Twelve persons including the bomber were killed, and about 50 were injured, Jerusalem police said.
The Jerusalem cafe blast came just two hours after two Palestinian gunmen tossed grenades and opened fire at a seafront hotel in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya. Besides the death of an Israeli baby girl, more than 30 people were wounded, covering the hotel lobby and the sidewalk outside with blood, police and hospital officials said.
Police chased the two Palestinians and shot them dead in front of a second hotel nearby, Israeli authorities said. A third man was also shot dead, and police initially thought he was a Palestinian gunman, but later confirmed he was an Israeli citizen. It was not clear who shot the Israeli, police said.
The Al Aqsa Brigades militia claimed responsibility for the hotel attack.
"We strongly condemn this latest outburst of violence and urge both sides to do all they can to bring it to an immediate end," said a U.S. State Department official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.
More than 1,000 Palestinians and more than 300 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinians began an uprising against Israeli occupation in September 2000 after peace talks stalled.


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