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Suicide Bomber Wounds 3 Israeli Soldiers in Gaza Strip - 2003-05-19


A Palestinian man riding a bicycle has detonated explosives next to a military jeep in the southern Gaza Strip, wounding three Israeli soldiers. It was the fourth Palestinian suicide bombing attack, all attributed to Hamas, in the past three days.

The Palestinian attacker rode close to a military jeep on patrol in the Gaza Strip and then set off the explosion. He died in the blast.

The attack near the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom came one day after two suicide bombings in Jerusalem. One of the attacks killed at least seven Israelis on a commuter bus. The Palestinian attacker was dressed as a religious Jew.

The same ploy also also used in a suicide bombing operation on Saturday, when a Palestinian killed an Israeli couple and himself in a Jewish enclave in the divided West Bank city of Hebron.

Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, has claimed responsibility for all four bombings and vowed that it would launch more attacks in the near future.

Israel has imposed a total closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip in response to the attacks. At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has postponed a planned visit to Washington, where he was to meet with President George W. Bush to discuss the U.S.-backed road map to Middle East peace.

The Israeli Cabinet also has decided to step up political pressure on the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. Under the decision, any visiting foreign diplomats or politicians who meet with Mr. Arafat will be banned from seeing Israeli officials.

The Cabinet also discussed the possibility of expelling Mr. Arafat from the West Bank. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was quoted Monday as saying Israel is seriously considering such action.

He says that if Mr. Arafat continues to foil efforts to revive the peace process, Israel will have no alternative but to send the Palestinian leader into exile.

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