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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     July 25, 1995, V3, #134
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Six Dead, 30 Injured as Hamas Bombs Ramat Gan-Tel Aviv Bus

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem), Ron Pemstein (Washington)

Israel has closed the Palestinian territories and temporarily suspended peace talks after an apparent suicide bombing on a crowded bus Monday near Tel Aviv. The explosion occurred on a Dan bus No. 20, which was carrying rush hour commuters and took place next to the Israel Diamond Exchange in Ramat Gan at 8:40 a.m.

The explosion killed six people and injured more than 30. Two of the dead were identified as Moshe Shkedi, 75, of Ramat Gan, and Zehava Oren, 60, of Tel Aviv.

It recalled images of other bus bombings last year and earlier this year in and around Tel Aviv. There were the same scenes of a bombed-out bus, helmeted police searching for additional bombs, blood-covered victims being carried away and shaken witnesses telling what they had seen.

This woman, identified only as Arnette, told Israel Radio she was standing nearby when she heard and felt a huge explosion. She saw heads and hands flying through the bus windows and the dead and injured lying on the bus floor.

The militant Palestinian group Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing. Hamas said its units in the "occupied" West Bank carried out the attack, not those based in autonomous Palestinian areas. Hamas and another militant group, Islamic Jihad, conducted several suicide bombings last year and early this year in an effort to block the peace process.

More than 60 people have been killed in such bombings in the past nine months, but recently there had been a three-month lull in attacks.

Israel says Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, must control the militant groups if he wants his autonomous area expanded. Arafat was quick to publicly condemn this latest attack, which occurred while peace talks were in progress.

"I condemn completely these terrorist activities. This is an attempt to sabotage the talks and the peace process. But I am sure that the wisdom of the prime minister and the cabinet will be able, with our coordination, to over jump all these obstacles."

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited the scene of Monday's blast and then announced peace talks would be suspended until after the funerals of all of the victims, likely to be held by tomorrow. Rabin said the peace process with the Palestinians will continue so as not to give a victory to its opponents.

"It is inconceivable that negotiations would continue as usual during the funerals. This is shocking and painful. This is a hard time for all of us. We must not let those crazy and cruel acts carried out by the Palestinian enemies of peace prevent us from continuing the peace process, a process that we are determined to continue in order to solve once and for all the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We will not give in to this kind of lunatic atrocity by suicidal terror missions, or by any kind of terror mission. We will continue the peace process, there is no alternative to that regardless to the enemies of peace."

When the bomb exploded Monday, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were working at a hotel on the shore of the Dead Sea trying to reach agreement on the expansion of Palestinian autonomy. They had a target date of today, but had said they would need the rest of this week, and perhaps longer, to finish the agreement.

Rabin also closed the Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza, but he said the closure will probably not last very long.

Secretary of State Warren Christopher telephoned Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to express his outrage at the Tel Aviv bombing, and his understanding for Israel's decision to postpone talks with the Palestinians after a period of mourning.

The Secretary of State tells reporters it is more important to get an Israeli-Palestinian agreement negotiated correctly than it was to meet today's target date.

Christopher says the US will lend a stronger hand to the negotiations as they come into their final stages. US officials had not expected Israel and the Palestinians to complete the agreement by today, even before the bus attack in Tel Aviv.

Israeli-Jordanian Aid Effort to Bosnia Scheduled for Today

A joint shipment of Israeli-Jordanian humanitarian aid will be flown to Bosnia today if the necessary coordination with the U.N. has been completed.

Two Boeing planes -- one Israeli and one Jordanian -- will simultaneously depart from their respective countries and travel together to Split, Bosnia. The planes will land at the same airport and will bring medical supplies, blankets, food and clothes to Bosnians.

Details of joint mission were finalized last week during a meeting in Amman between Crown Prince Hassan and Environment Minister Yossi Sarid.

During a radio and television donor campaign held in Jordan over the weekend, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein spoke together on live TV about the Bosnia situation.

The two leaders expressed their protest and shock at the ethnic cleansing and killing being carried out by the Bosnian Serbs. Rabin told the announcer that he would personally donate $3,000.

Burial Cave Uncovered in Highway Construction

Bulldozers working on a new highway in the Ben-Shemen-Gimzu Junction area struck a soft chalk rock and uncovered a cave, which has been identified as an ancient burial cave. Additional excavations by the Antiquities Authority's archeologist Oren Shmueli found two more similar caves nearby, probably from the end of the first and beginning of the second century. They were not looted, though there were signs that people had entered them. The central area is high enough to stand in, with cubicles on all sides for the burials... They have been identified as Jewish burial sites.

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