- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2003

From combined dispatches

JERUSALEM — An explosion in a house in an Israeli village killed two persons yesterday in a what might have been suicide bombing as Palestinian security forces detained a woman suspected of planning a separate suicide attack.

The explosion collapsed the house in the agricultural village of Kfar Yavetz — near the central town of Netanya, a few miles from the West Bank.

“At the moment, we are investigating all possibilities, but there are signs that this was an attack,” central region police Cmdr. Amihai Shai said.

A suicide bombing would be a major blow to the fragile cease-fire Palestinian terrorist groups declared with Israel last week.

The bodies of a woman, the 65-year-old owner of the house, and a young man were pulled from the rubble of the house.

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security forces said they detained an 18-year-old woman who was planning a suicide bombing, an arrest welcomed by Israel as a step forward on the U.S.-backed “road map” for Middle East peace.

Five other Palestinians, including three armed men intercepted as they approached the Israeli border, were taken into custody by Palestinian forces in Gaza in separate incidents Sunday, a security official said.

“The Palestinian Authority has begun dealing with the arrest of those planning terrorism,” Israeli Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad told Army Radio, referring to a move mandated by the peace plan.

A spokesman for Maj. Gen. Abdel Razek al-Majaydeh, the Palestinian security chief in Gaza, said the suicide-bombing suspect left a note for her family announcing her intention to blow herself up.

“The woman is under arrest and is being interrogated. We want to know whether she acted alone or was part of a group,” he said.

Under the peace plan, which calls for reciprocal steps leading to a Palestinian state by 2005, Gen. Majaydeh’s men took control of parts of the Gaza Strip left by Israel last week in a pullback from cities, including Bethlehem, in the West Bank.

Diplomatic sources said an Egyptian delegation will go to Gaza tomorrow for talks with militant groups and Palestinian security chiefs to bolster the truce.

Israel has said further withdrawals will not be made until Palestinian forces show they are preventing attacks from areas vacated by Israeli troops.

In southern Gaza, Israeli troops in the border town of Rafah came under a barrage of pipe bombs and shot back, wounding a youth, witnesses and Israeli security sources said.

In the West Bank town of Tulkarm, Israeli forces shot and wounded a Palestinian youth. Security sources said he behaved suspiciously and ignored orders to stop. The army also said it arrested 15 suspected of being militants in the West Bank overnight.

Also yesterday, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Amr and resolved to establish a joint committee to examine ways to end incitement of violence.

“With the participation and cooperation of the Americans, we will work to define incitement and its manifestations, and address this issue in an effective and positive manner,” Mr. Amr told reporters.

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