A suicide bomber struck an open-air market in the Israeli town of Hadera on Wednesday, killing at least five people, including the bomber, and wounding more than 30 others.
Witnesses say the blast occurred next to a food stall crowded with patrons in the central part of the Hadera central market. The town is about 70 kilometers north of the city of Tel Aviv.
The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. Islamic Jihad representative Khaled el-Batch told Israeli television the attack was in retaliation for the killing earlier this week of a senior Islamic Jihad commander.
The Islamic Jihad representative says Israelis have to understand that no fence or wall will stop attacks. He says the killing of Islamic Jihad members by Israel will be retaliated against.
Wednesday's attack was immediately condemned by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who issued a statement saying the attack harmed Palestinian interests and could widen the cycle of violence, chaos, extremism and bloodshed.
The attack was also condemned by Israeli officials. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry, spoke to reporters Wednesday evening.
"I think it just shows once more very clearly that there are groups out there, groups like Hamas, groups like Islamic Jihad, that do not want to see a process of reconciliation take place between Israelis and Palestinians. All they want to see is violent Jihad," he said.
At the White House presidential spokesman Scott McClellan condemned the bombing callling it heinous attack on innocent civilians. "The Palestinian Authority needs to do more to end the violence and prevent terror attcks from being carried out," he said.
Mr. McClellan said attacks by terrorist groups undermine the authority of Palestinian President Abbas.
Wednesday's attack put in further jeopardy a fragile informal truce agreed to earlier this year by Palestinian factions and Israel. Violence has escalated between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Palestinian factions, since Israel completed its pullout from the Gaza Strip last month. In the past few days there have been a series of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli territory, with retaliatory missile and air strikes against Palestinian targets in Gaza by Israel.
Even though they agreed to the truce, Islamic Jihad militants have been blamed for each of the four suicide bombings that have taken place in Israel since the truce went into effect. Islamic Jihad, which the State Department lists as a terrorist group, says its attacks have been in response to Israeli actions.