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Israel Beefs Up Security After Suicide Bombing

Israeli security forces are on high alert after the first suicide bombing in a year, which took place Monday in southern Israel. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, Israel is considering a number of options in response to the attack.

Israeli police and soldiers have beefed up patrols in crowded public places such as bus stations and malls. There are warnings that more Palestinian militants have infiltrated Israel after the first suicide bombing in the desert town of Dimona.

One Israeli was killed in the attack, but it could have been much worse. A second Palestinian bomber was killed by police before he could detonate the explosives strapped to his body.

Police are investigating claims by militant Palestinian groups that the bombers infiltrated Israel from the unfenced border with the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. They are said to have crossed into Egypt after militants destroyed the border wall between the Gaza Strip and Egypt two weeks ago. That enabled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to cross into Egypt unchecked.

Israeli Cabinet ministers will meet Wednesday to discuss building a fence on the porous, 250-kilometer border with Egypt.

Cabinet Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer says a fence is a necessity now that the Gaza-Egypt border has been breached. He told Israel Radio that the fence could be completed in a year.

The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, was one of the Palestinian organizations that claimed responsibility for the bombing. It was the first such claim by Hamas since 2004, and it prompted this threat from Israeli parliamentarian Tzahi Hanegbi.

Hanegbi, who heads parliament's influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Israel should assassinate the political leaders of Hamas. He told Israel Radio that assassinations have been an effective deterrent in the past, and he said, no Hamas leader should be immune.

Hamas brushed off the threats. The group said it would not be intimidated by what it described as Israeli "terrorism and crimes."