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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 31, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 139

14 Dead, 150 Wounded in Hamas Jerusalem Attack

By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)

The military wing of the militant Islamic group Hamas has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's suicide bombings in Jerusalem that killed 14 and wounded 150 others. Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat has already ordered the arrest of members of militant Muslim groups.

A leaflet passed on to news agencies states that the Al Qassem brigade of Hamas carried out what is referred to as martyrdom operations. At mid-day, two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the center of Jerusalem's outdoor market. Police say they found their dismembered bodies among the dead at the scene. They believe the bombers were disguised as Israelis and carried the explosives in bags. The Hamas leaflet demands that Israel free all Palestinian prisoners.

The bombings led to the postponement of a new initiative by US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross. Ross had planned to hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Arafat on ways to revive the stalled peace process.

Palestinian officials condemned the bombings, and Arafat telephoned Netanyahu to express his condolences, Netanyahu said condolences from Arafat are not enough, that Israeli expects the Palestinian Authority to crack down on people responsible for bombings.

"We have said time and time again that the Palestinian Authority has failed to keep its commitments to fight terrorists, has failed to keep its commitment to stop the incitement towards violence, has failed to keep its commitment to cooperate with us, security cooperation that can stop this terrorism, instead we see that 150 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were set free, like savage animals to commit these barbarous acts."

Netanyahu said the terrorists must be jailed and their weapons and explosives confiscated. Arafat later ordered the arrests of (members of) militant Muslim groups, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

Terror Warnings & High Alert

By IINS News Service

Jerusalem police and other security forces are on high alert in anticipation of additional attempts at carrying out terrorist attacks in Jerusalem in the coming days.

Security officials report that intelligence information indicates terrorists plan to carry out additional attacks. Large numbers of police reinforcements are being deployed throughout the capital, concentrating on sensitive areas.

Police have called upon all Israelis to be on increased alertness and to report anything suspicious to police immediately. Police have asked citizens to pay special attention to suspicious packages.

Clinton Denies Ignoring Peace Process

By David Gollust (VOA-White House)

In the wake of the Jerusalem bombing, the Clinton administration is denying suggestions it has been ignoring the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A visit to the region by US envoy Dennis Ross, postponed by the terror attack, will be rescheduled soon.

Administration officials say the terror attack may have been staged because of the very fact that Israeli-Palestinian talks are beginning to move forward again. And they say that after an appropriate period of mourning for the bombing victims, Ross will go to the region with new US ideas for accelerating negotiations.

The blast at the open-air market in Jerusalem came two days after Israeli and Palestinian officials announced a partial resumption of their peace dialogue after four months of stalemate.

After a briefing from national security aides, Clinton made a condolence phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Then he appeared in the White House press room to condemn what he called "an inexcusable, barbarous act."

The president bristled at one reporters' suggestion that he and Secretary of State Albright have been avoiding the troubled peace process. "My personal involvement has been continuing and intense. I know of no example in recent history where peace is made by third-parties trying to be helpful making public statements alone. I believe the way I'm doing this is the most effective way. But you should not conclude for a moment that the White House has not been intimately and intensely and continuously involved in this peace process, particularly as it has gotten more difficult."

The president said the bombing was aimed not only at innocent Israelis, but also the majority among Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs who want a lasting and just peace.

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