A Palestinian suicide bomber has killed at least nine people and wounded dozens more in central Tel Aviv. The Palestinian militant group, Islamic Jihad, has claimed responsibility and Israel says it is weighing its response.
The calm of the Jewish Passover holiday week was shattered Monday when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at a fast-food restaurant near Tel Aviv's old bus station. The attack came shortly before two o'clock in the afternoon local time.
Within minutes, ambulances rushed to the scene and rescue service officials spoke of a large number of injured.
An eyewitness told of a horrible scene at the blast site.
The witness told Israeli radio he heard a huge explosion and ran from his shop to where the bomb went off. He said he saw people covered in blood. It was terrible, he said.
Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the blast and an Arab television station later aired a video tape showing a young man, who appeared to be in his teens and who identified himself as Sami Hamad of the Quds Brigade of Islamic Jihad.
Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for most of the suicide bombings over the past year.
Monday's bombing was the first such attack since the militant Islamic group Hamas took over the reins of the Palestinian government last month.
In Jerusalem, just before attending the opening of the new legislative session in the Knesset, Israeli Prime Minister-designate Ehud Olmert told members of his Kadima Party that Israel is weighing its response.
Mr. Olmert said consultations are under way to decide on how to respond to the bombing. He said there is no way to prevent all such attacks, but he warned Israel would know how to react and when.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the bombing, saying it runs counter to Palestinian interests.
Hamas, however, defended the attack as self defense. A Hamas spokesman said it was a "natural result" of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. He said the Israeli occupation is to blame.