Israelis in northern Israel and in the West Bank have been hit by two successive Palestinian suicide bombings. The second of the two occurred in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, wounding at least four people. The first took place in the port city of Haifa killing at least 15 people and wounding 40 more.
The Haifa blast occurred in a restaurant, next to a gas station, toward the end of lunch hour. Ambulances rushed to the scene, and first-aid workers evacuated the injured to nearby hospitals.
Some of the injured from the Haifa explosion were helped out of the wreckage with their clothes still on fire. The blast was so powerful that it ripped through the roof of the eatery and scattered debris across a nearby parking lot.
Amram Mitzna, the mayor of Haifa, a mixed city of Arabs and Jews, said it seemed that the explosion had hit every customer and worker in the restaurant. He says "Arabs and Jews frequented the eatery," adding that the two groups had not only had been a model of co-existence but now also suffered together through the same tragedies.
The attacker came from the Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin, which Israeli authorities say is a recruitment center for suicide bombers.
Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for Hamas, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, says the bombings will continue until Israel ends its military operation in the West Bank city of Ramallah, including the occupation of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters.