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Suicide Bomber Hits Israeli Shopping Center

A suicide bomber has killed at least two people and injured about 30 more in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya. The extremist group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bomb exploded in the early evening just outside a busy shopping mall in the city.

The attacker was an 18-year-old Palestinian from a nearby West Bank village. He had just finished high school a few days ago.

Ambulances rushed to the scene as bodies were recovered and the injured taken away to hospitals. It has become a familiar scene in many Israeli cities during the past four and a half years of violence.

But the attack shattered a five-month calm that had held, with some exceptions, since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a truce in early February. A few weeks into that truce a suicide bomber from Islamic Jihad blew himself up outside a Tel Aviv nightclub.

Shortly before the Netanya attack, a car exploded in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Police believe the explosion was a botched car bombing that went awry when the explosives detonated prematurely. The driver of the car was captured.

The incidents occur at a sensitive time as Israel prepares to withdraw its settlement from the Gaza Strip and small portions of the West Bank.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was quick to condemn the bombing as the work of those who want to sabotage that withdrawal and a return to the peace process.

The attack is sure to increase pressure on the Palestinian leadership to control the militants.