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Palestinian Militant Group Claims Deadly Attack in Tel Aviv Nightclub - 2003-07-15

A Palestinian militant group has claimed responsibility for an attack in a Tel Aviv nightclub early Tuesday that left one Israeli dead and another injured. Authorities say it was the first such attack in an Israeli city since the main Palestinian factions announced a self-imposed temporary halt to attacks against Israelis.

In a statement on its Web site, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade said one of its fighters carried out the early morning attack in Tel Aviv.

According to police and witnesses, a Palestinian armed with a knife tried to enter the nightclub but was stopped by a security guard. He stabbed the guard in the neck. Customers in the club began throwing chairs at the attacker, who then fled along the seaside promenade. As he was fleeing, the attacker fatally stabbed another man. He was then shot in the leg and arrested by Israeli police.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is affiliated with the mainstream Fatah faction, to which both Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas belong. Fatah was one of the factions that agreed to a temporary freeze on attacks against Israelis late last month. Violence has dropped off dramatically since then, but some local splinter groups have refused to join the cease-ire.

Israeli officials say the Palestinian Authority is not doing enough to dismantle the militant organizations. Prime Minister Abbas has not wanted to move against the militants too aggressively, fearing a possible civil war.

Mr. Abbas has also had his share of problems with President Arafat and some other Fatah members, who have criticized the prime minister for his handling of negotiations with Israel. During a meeting in Ramallah late Tuesday, Mr. Abbas and Mr. Arafat reportedly patched up their differences.