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Israel Attacks West Bank Targets After Suicide Bombs - 2001-09-09


Israeli helicopters fired missiles at several Palestinian targets, following two suicide bombings in Israel and a drive-by shooting of Israeli teachers in the West Bank.

The Israeli strikes targeted Palestinian security offices in Ramallah, Jericho, and near Jenin in the West Bank. The operations came in response to a day of violence that left at least seven people dead and dozens more injured.

During the morning rush hour, a suicide bomber struck outside the train station in the northern coastal city of Nahariya. The man was later identified as an Israeli Arab from the northern Galilee area - the first Arab citizen of Israel to be blamed for a suicide bombing.

Another bomb exploded three-hours later at a busy highway intersection in central Israel where soldiers usually wait for rides.

Israeli officials suspect the second suicide bomber was on his way to the nearby seaside resort of Natanya, but the bomb exploded early.

Earlier in the morning, gunmen shot at a van carrying Israeli teachers near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

Three extremist groups claimed responsibility for the separate terrorist attacks.

The violence has threatened to disrupt plans for a meeting between Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The two men are expected to meet within a few days to talk about a cease-fire, but no time or place has yet been announced.

The Palestinians have said a final decision on the talks would be made after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers Sunday in Cairo.

The Israeli Cabinet met late Sunday to assess the situation and consider a plan for a military buffer zone. The no-go area would further restrict the movement of Palestinians into Israel. Palestinian leaders have condemned the plan as another form of collective punishment.

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