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Israel Assists in Evacuating U.S. Citizens


Israel is assisting the United States in removing its citizens from Gaza. Following Wednesday morning's attack, Washington issued an alert instructing all U.S. citizens to leave Gaza, adding they should exhibit caution in areas throughout Judea and Samaria.

Bush Blames Palestinian Authority for Death of Three Americans

By & Ha'aretz

President George W. Bush blamed Palestinian authorities Wednesday for the deaths of three Americans in an attack in Gaza, saying their failure to create terrorist-fighting security forces "continues to cost lives." In a written statement, Bush said "Palestinian authorities should have acted long ago to fight terror in all its forms."

Putting the blame squarely on the Palestinian leadership, he said, "The failure to create effective Palestinian security forces dedicated to fighting terror continues to cost lives. There must be an empowered prime minister who controls all Palestinian forces - reforms that continue to be blocked by Yasir Arafat."

"The failure to undertake these reforms and dismantle the terrorist organizations constitutes the greatest obstacle to achieving the Palestinian people's dream of statehood," Bush said. "The U.S. embassy officials traveling in Gaza were there to interview young Palestinian candidates seeking Fulbright scholarships to study in the United States. This is another example of how the terrorists are enemies of progress and opportunity for the Palestinian people."

In the first deadly attack on American officials since the start of the intifada three years ago, a massive remote-controlled bomb demolished an armor-plated jeep in a convoy carrying U.S. diplomatic personnel in the Gaza Strip. The U.S. later named the three security men as John Branchizio, Mark Parson and John Martin Linde. The three were on contract to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv through the defense contracting company Dyncorp, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The American officials, including a cultural envoy from the U.S. embassy, were headed to interview Palestinian candidates for Fulbright scholarships in the U.S. The blast went off around 10:15 a.m. as a three-car U.S. diplomatic convoy drove near a gas station on the outskirts of the town of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, along the main north-south road.

Both the militant Islamic Jihad and Hamas movements denied responsibility for the attack. Witnesses at the scene said a silver Cherokee jeep used by American diplomats was completely destroyed by the blast. Parts of the vehicle were strewn in a 30-meter radius around a crater created by the explosion. The explosion tore the car in half and left the wreckage twisted with the tires up in the air. The pavement was stained with blood and littered with bits of flesh.

Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday called Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and urged him to act against militants, a senior Palestinian official said. "Powell told the prime minister it was important that the Palestinian Authority take action to put an end to violence and 'terrorism'," said Hassan Abu Libeh, the head of Qureia's office. Militant groups have denied any involvement in the roadside bombing.

Arafat condemned the bombing Wednesday of the convoy in the Gaza Strip, calling it an "ugly crime, and ordered a probe into the blast that killed three people. The Palestinian news agency Wafa said Arafat "strongly condemns the crime that targeted American monitors. The president gave instructions to conduct a joint investigative committee with the American side ... to find out who is behind this awful crime."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Florida), Chairperson of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, told Fox News that Arafat is in total charge of the terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian Authority: "If he wanted to, he could dismantle the entire terrorist infrastructure today or this very hour. He has already fired one prime minister, and is about to fire another, and is in charge of everything that goes on there. So for him to say that he condemns today's attack is just ridiculous."

Terrorists Were Intending to Hit U.S. Convoy


The theory is Wednesday morning's attack in Gaza against an American diplomatic convoy was not a mistake or a coincidence. The road on which the attack occurred is in an area under total PA security control, traveled by PA motorists only. Israeli civilian or military vehicles do not travel the road.

It is also believed the person who detonated the bomb which may have weighed about 220 pounds had visual contact and made the decision to detonate the blast only after being certain the vehicles passing were not PA motorists.

The vehicle hit by the blast was the third in the convoy, occupied by security personnel. Channel 2 TV reported the order of the vehicles was changed and it appears the terrorists were aiming for what should have been the diplomatic vehicle, not security personnel.

Shortly following the attack, rumors spread quickly that US Mideast envoy John Wolf was killed or injured in the attack. It was learned that Wolf was out of the country when the attack occurred. The convoy also passed a PA checkpoint minutes ahead of the attack, perhaps the location where the lookout called ahead to inform the bomber of the convoy's position and estimated time of arrival.

Film aired on Israeli media showed the immediate true response to the horrific attack. When American security personnel realized what had taken place, they stopped the other armor-plated GMC vehicles in the convoy and began getting out, assessing the situation. Stone-throwing PA residents in the area immediately pelted them. PA police finally began firing their weapons to distance the mob.

P.A. Hatred for U.S.

By Palestinian Media Watch (Commentary)

Palestinian Media Watch announced Wednesday that it has been documenting for years how "in its English statements, the PA presents itself as an American ally, while its Arabic messages incite its people to hate and kill Americans.

Never has this hypocrisy been more striking than today, after the Palestinian ambush that targeted and killed three American diplomats in the Gaza Strip. The official PA rushed to condemn the attack - even as the PA-controlled media continues its relentless campaign of anti-American indoctrination." See "" for examples of PA hatred for the United States and the West.

Gaza Palestine Satellite TV Channel, an official television station of the Palestinian Authority, carries a weekly live sermon from Sheikh Zaid Bin-Sultan Al Nuhayyan Mosque in Gaza. This past Friday, the imam told his audience, "The world will never enjoy security unless our children enjoy it here in Palestine. We hear statements by the little US President. We hear unfair and tyrannical statements in which he says Israel has the right to defend itself. These statements carry destruction for the United States itself. From here, we warn the American people that this President is dragging them to the abyss." He concluded, "O Lord, take vengeance on the Jews and their supporters. O Lord, take vengeance on the Jews and their allies..."

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