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Israel Retaliates for Jerusalem Bombs - 2001-09-03

Israeli helicopters fired at a Palestinian security building near the West Bank town of Hebron, in retaliation for four bombs, which exploded in Jerusalem Monday. At least three Israelis were injured in the bombings.

Palestinians say the Israeli attack injured two members of the Palestinian security forces and badly damaged the building in Dura, near the West Bank town of Hebron. The helicopter attack came hours after four bombs exploded in downtown Jerusalem, two of them during the morning rush hour.

Israeli army radio reports the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, PFLP, has claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts. The unit identified itself as the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, after the PFLP leader who was killed by an Israeli missile strike a week ago.

Two of the bombs exploded simultaneously on opposite sides of the city - one in the northern French Hill neighborhood, and the other in the southern neighborhood of Gilo. Two other bombs exploded in French Hill earlier in the day.

The violence has overshadowed plans for a meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Israeli Communications Minister Ruby Rivlin has little hopes the talks could break the impasse in the peace process. He says the best result of the meeting would be an agreement for a cease-fire. "The mandate that Mr. Peres has received from the government of Israel was only to negotiate about the cease-fire, and not far from that point," he said. "It should be very well understood that Arafat cannot achieve any political achievement from the negotiations. That should be well understood by everyone."

The Peres-Arafat talks are expected to take place at the end of the week, on the sidelines of a three-day business conference near the Italian city of Milan.