Israel hit by 3 attacks: bombers dressed as Orthodox Jews

Sunday, May 18, 2003

JERUSALEM Israel has been rocked by a new wave of Palestinian suicide attacks in which bombers dressed as Orthodox Jews.

Suicide bombers struck Israeli targets three times in a period of 10 hours over the weekend. Nine Israelis were killed in attacks on late Saturday and early Sunday.

Officials said the latest wave of bombings is believed to have been carried out by such Islamic opposition groups by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Neither group has yet claimed responsibility.

In the latest attack, seven Israelis were killed and 21 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up on an Israeli passenger bus in Jerusalem on Sunday, Middle East Newsline reported. Israeli officials said the bombing destroyed the bus as it was making its way from a northern neighborhood of French Hill to the center of Jerusalem.

Officials said a Palestinian attacker dressed as an Orthodox Jew. They said the Palestinian was wearing a skullcap and prayer shawl when he boarded the bus.

Another suicide bomber blew himself up as he tried to cross an Israeli police checkpoint in northern Jerusalem on early Sunday. Nobody was hurt and officials believe the Palestinian was linked to the Jerusalem bus bombing.

On late Saturday, a suicide bomber killed two Israelis in the West Bank city of Hebron. The bomber, also dressed as an Orthodox Jew, approached an Israeli roadblock to one of the Jewish quarters in the city.

Israeli soldiers called on the approaching man to identify himself. The Palestinian ran toward a Jewish couple nearby and blew himself up. The couple were killed.

The suicide bomber was identified as Fuad Qawasmeh, a member of the Hamas movement.

Amid the latest attacks, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon delayed his trip to the United States. Officials said Sharon is expected to meet President George Bush later this week. On late Saturday, Sharon met for several hours with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem.

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