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Deadly West Bank Bombing Tests Cease-Fire

A Palestinian suicide bomber has killed an Israeli army officer and two Palestinian bystanders in the West Bank. The attack is a blow to the fragile Mideast cease-fire.

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at an Israeli army roadblock near the West Bank town of Tulkarem.

An eyewitness said soldiers stopped a car and asked the young man to get out. He did, and then he detonated explosives strapped to his body. The army said it set up the roadblock after receiving intelligence warnings that a bomber planned to infiltrate Israel.

Media reports said the militant Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility. But Israel blamed the Palestinian Authority.

"We expect the Palestinians to follow through on their commitments, and that is to disarm the different terrorist organizations," Israeli spokesman Mark Regev told VOA.

The bombing is threatening to collapse the 10-month-old cease-fire that is due to expire on Saturday. Palestinian Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat urged militant groups to renew the truce, known in Arabic as the "hudna."

"We still believe that exerting maximum effort to maintain the 'hudna' between the two sides mutually serves both sides' interests," said Saeb Erekat.

Tension is also running high in the northern Gaza Strip, where Palestinians have entered the area of abandoned Jewish settlements to fire rockets into Israel. In response, Israel has carved out a buffer zone.

"It's basically a no-go zone for Palestinians; anybody who is seen there could be attacked or even killed," said Jerusalem Post correspondent Matthew Gutman. "This is Israel's policy."

The Palestinian Authority condemned the policy and accused Israel of re-occupying Gaza.