Three killed in Eilat terror attack
Published: 01.29.07, 10:28
Police confirmed that a suicide bomber blew himself up in a bakery in the neighborhood that was bustling with shoppers at the time, dispelling earlier reports that the blast was caused by a gas cylinder.
Shattered glass was visible on the sidewalk outside, alongside blood-stained bread trays scattered by the blast.
"There were four bodies at the scene, one of which belonged to the suicide bomber The scene was terrifying," a Magen David Adom paramedic told Ynet.
Palestinian news reports identified the suicide bomber as Fasial al-Saqsaq, 23, from the Gaza Strip.
According to initial police findings, the bomber had planned to blow himself up at another location but entered the bakery when a pedestrian suspected his behavior.
Two Palestinian groups, the Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - the military wing of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction - claimed joint responsibility for the attack. However, Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abdul Rahman condemned the violence, saying, "We are against any operation that targets civilians, Israelis or Palestinians."
Although the Islamic Jihad said the bomber came from the West Bank, the Israeli army did not rule out the possibility that he came from the Gaza Strip and infiltrated Israel from Egypt, which he reached using tunnels dug under the Egypt-Gaza border.
Jihad issued conflicting statements about the bomber's place of residence, later claiming that the bomber had crossed into Israel from neighboring Jordan.
A statement issued by the group, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, said the bombing "underscores the Palestinian resistance's intention to pursue Jihad (holy war) until all Palestinian lands are liberated."
A spokesman for the governing Islamic group Hamas defended Monday's bombing as legitimate "resistance" against Israel.
Fawzi Barhoum called the attack a "natural response" to Israeli military policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as its ongoing boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian government. "So long as there is occupation, resistance is legitimate," he said.
The attack prompted the Israel Police to raise the level of alert nationwide, amid fears that more suicide bombers could be hiding in Eilat.
Eilat District police commander Bruno Stein said: "This is an extremely serious incident which requires us to think fast. We have boosted our forces' presence in the city and are working on finding out who stands behind the bombing. Our assumption is that it's not one bomber, and there might be more bombers in Eilat right now."
The bombing is the first to strike the southernmost resort city and the first to hit Israel since last April, when a suicide bomber blew himself up near Tel Aviv's old bus station, killing eight people.
Ahuva Mamos, Ali Waked, Moran Rada, Meital Yasur-Beit Or, Efrat Weiss and AP contributed to the report
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