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Sharon Deplores Deadly Bombing of Istanbul Synagogue - 2003-11-16

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says the bombing of two Istanbul synagogues on Saturday shows that "terrorism knows no bounds." He also expressed confidence that Turkish authorities would arrest those responsible for the blasts which killed at least 22 people and injured 242.

Mr. Sharon said the bomb attacks in Istanbul demonstrated that terrorism does not discriminate by religion or race. The purpose of such acts is to "sow fear and terror through the slaying of innocent people."

Mr. Sharon dispatched his foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, to Istanbul to speak with Turkish leaders and members of the Jewish community on ways to improve security in the wake of the attacks.

Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Danny Shek says the attacks have demonstrated the need for nations to forge a united front against terrorism.

"One can hardly imagine a more tragic, violent and cruel attack than to simultaneously go after two places of worship on the Sabbath in order to kill a maximum amount of people who are busy praying and worshipping," he said. "I think that internationally the message that comes across this event is that no country is immune to terrorism and no state can afford not to participate in the global fight against terror."

Some observers believe that the bombings were an attempt to drive Jews out of Turkey, a secular Muslim country with strong military ties to Israel.

But one of the Jewish leaders in Istanbul, Avi Al-Kash, told Israel Radio that Jews had no intention of fleeing Turkey because of terrorism.

"We will continue to pray in our synagogues again," insisted Mr. Al-Kash. "The funerals will take place in the same place in the same synagogue. We should not let terror overrule our good relations, our good acquaintances here. As the Jewish minority here, having every right, every freedom, I do not think those relationships will be damaged."

Officials from Israel's intelligence agencies, Mossad and Shin Bet, flew Saturday to Istanbul to assist in the investigation.

Mr. Sharon says his government is confident that Turkish authorities will capture those responsible for the attacks and put them on trial.