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Israel Blames Syria for Tel Aviv Bombing

  • Larry James

Israel's Army Radio quotes Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz as saying Syria was behind the suicide bombing Friday night in Tel Aviv that killed four Israelis and wounded dozens more.

The radio said the defense minister made the assessment during an emergency meeting Saturday night called to consider Israel's response to the bombing. The report said Mr. Mofaz did not threaten retaliation against Syria. A statement issued from his office said Israel sees Syria and the militant group Islamic Jihad as responsible for the Tel Aviv attack.

Earlier Saturday Palestinian security officials, acting on orders from President Mahmoud Abbas, arrested three men with ties to Islamic Jihad in the West Bank town of Tulkarem.

Israeli troops also took into custody two of the brothers of the bomber and four neighbors in a raid Saturday morning in a village near Tulkarem.

Israelis had begun to feel safer again during the relative calm during of the past several weeks. That sense of security was buoyed earlier this month when President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon declared an end to violence and vowed to seek peace.

But, that calm was shattered late Friday when 21 year old university student Abdullah Badran walked up to popular seafront nightclub in Tel Aviv and detonated an explosive belt. Initially all three of the main militant groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, denied they had anything to do with the attack.

Some Palestinian officials said they believed Hezbollah was behind the bombing, a charge denied by the Lebanon based militant group.

Mr. Abbas convened a special meeting of his security chiefs Saturday. He told reporters in Ramallah afterward that those responsible would be caught and brought to justice. He also said the attack was an attempt by what he termed third party outsiders who want to sabotage new peace efforts.

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