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Booby-Trapped Car Explodes in West Jerusalem - 2002-12-28


A booby-trapped car exploded early Saturday in the heart of west Jerusalem.

No one was hurt in the Jerusalem attack except the apparent bomber, who suffered light injuries when only one of the two gas canisters he planned to detonate went off. He was arrested and police cordoned off the neighborhood.

The incident occurred at one o'clock in the morning in an area of the city with restaurants and pubs that is popular with young people. The attacker was identified as an east Jerusalem resident who had previously worked in one of the night spots.

Four Israelis were killed just a few hours earlier when two Palestinian gunmen dressed in Israeli army uniforms and carrying M-16 rifles opened fire inside the kitchen of a dining hall in a West Bank Jewish settlement. Eight others were wounded in the adjacent dining room at the Otniel settlement southwest of Hebron.

Israeli soldiers shot and killed one of the gunmen during a 30 minute gun battle in the settlement. The other was killed some two hours later after Israeli soldiers tracked him to the nearby village of Dahariya.

Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the Otniel shooting. It was the first major attack by Palestinian militants in nearly a month. Saturday morning Israeli soldiers blew up two houses in the village of Doura, not far from the Otniel settlement. One of the homes belonged to a local Islamic Jihad activist.

The Friday night attack followed the killings of at least seven Palestinians by Israeli soldiers on Thursday.

Some Palestinian commentators said those killings were an attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government to inflame Palestinian passions and sabotage talks between militant groups in Cairo aimed at lowering the level of violence against Israelis, an assertion denied by Israeli military and government officials.

Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the radical Islamic group Hamas, which is participating in the Cairo talks, vowed that his organization would continue attacking Israelis.

He spoke to a rally of some 30,000 who had gathered in Gaza City to mark the 15th anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

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