TEL AVIV Ñ A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself and killed
three other people next to the U.S. embassy in Israel.
Authorities said the suicide bomber attacked a crowded nightclub next to
the embassy in Tel Aviv on early Wednesday. They said a security guard
prevented the entry of the Palestinian in the club and at that point he
detonated the bomb he was wearing.
Three people, in addition to the bomber, were killed and about 60 were
injured, including U.S. and French nationals, authorities said. Six people,
including the security guard, were said to have been seriously injured.
Authorities said the bomb did not include shrapnel, which has accounted for
most of the injuries in suicide strikes.
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U.S. security personnel have been stationed around the embassy near the
nightclub. They were not said to have been among the victims.
Officials said the embassy, which was closed at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, was
not a target. They said the popular club, called Mike's Place, had been a
previous target of Palestinian insurgents. About 80 people were in the club
when the bomber struck.
"If the terrorist would have entered the place, there would have been 30
dead and not three," nightclub owner Assaf Ganzman said.
The attack was the 89th suicide bombing since the start of the
Israeli-Palestinian war in September 2000. The Fatah movement headed by
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat claimed responsibility in a
joint operation with the Islamic opposition Hamas. A joint communique
identified the suicide bomber as a resident of the West Bank city of
"There are elements within Fatah who are interested in the continuation
of attacks," Israeli minister Danny Naveh said. "Arafat has not internalized
that those in Europe and the United States want him to leave the game."
Earlier, Israeli military units assassinated commanders of Fatah and the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The Israeli strikes were
reported in Bethlehem and Khan Yunis.
Officials said Israel's military has been ordered to maintain a low
profile amid the Tel Aviv attack. They said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon does
not want a massive military operation against Palestinian insurgency
strongholds in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in wake of the new Palestinian
government headed by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. The United States will
relay its so-called roadmap for a Palestinian state later on Wednesday.
Sharon, officials said, has been urged by his advisers to provide Abbas
with a grace period to demonstrate his commitment to stop Palestinian
attacks. A report prepared by a government interagency team and submitted to
Sharon warned that Abbas would not acquire the ability to prevent
Palestinian insurgency attacks over the short term.