Ceasefire? New wave of suicide strikes kill 2 Israelis

Special to World
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

TEL AVIV Palestinian insurgents have launched a new wave of suicide strikes against Israeli civilian targets.

Two suicide bombings took place on Tuesday in separate Israeli communities. In all, two Israelis were killed and 11 injured.

In one attack, a Palestinian blew himself up in a supermarket in the Israeli town of Rosh Ha'Ayin. In addition to the Palestinian attacker, an Israeli was killed and 10 were injured.

An hour later, a Palestinian detonated his explosive belt at the entrance to the Israeli city of Ariel in the West Bank. One Israeli was killed and one other was injured.

Israeli officials said they suspect the two attacks were connected. They said a Palestinian driver of an Israeli-licensed vehicle might have drove both of the suicide bombers to their destinations. The suspected car and driver were later captured by Israeli forces.

No Palestinian organization claimed responsibility and the Palestinian Authority condemned the attacks. But both Hamas and Islamic Jihad which announced a truce on June 29 -- blamed Israel for the suicide strikes, saying the Jewish state had violated the ceasefire.

A senior Israeli military commander, Col. Harel Knafao, said the suicide strike in Ariel appeared to have been carried out by Hamas. The commander said both of the suicide bombers came from the northern West Bank city of Nablus but were members of different unspecified groups.

Israeli officials said the suicide strikes prompted a government decision to postpone a scheduled release of 69 Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday.

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