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Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Palestinian suicide bomber kills 3 in Israel
A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a bakery in the southern Israeli resort town of Eilat, killing three bystanders.

This was the first such incident in Israel in nine months.

According to eyewitnesses, the suicide bomber looked conspicuous as he was wearing a long winter coat on a warm, sunny day.

Benny Mazgini, 45, told Israel Radio: "It was very hot, very hot. He had a coat on and it didn't look right to me. I thought to myself: What's that man dressed like that for? A couple of seconds later, I heard a massive explosion."

The explosion sent shattered glass and pieces of flesh flying, Mazgini said.

The suicide bombing marks the first attack in Israel in nine months and the first to ever hit Eilat, Israel's southernmost city.

The attack is the second bombing in Israel since Hamas took over power in Palestine in January 2006.

"This really has rattled Eilat," a television reporter said in Jerusalem. "Eilat has been somewhat insulated from a lot of the violence, especially the suicide bombings, that have hit other parts of the country over the last four years," he added.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asserted that Israel would continue to fight against Palestinian militants. However, he stopped short of threatening a direct retaliation.

"We shall draw the conclusions and learn the lessons and instruct our security people to continue their ongoing and never-ending struggle against terrorists and those who send them," Olmert declared.

The White House, in a statement, condemned "Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, which condone these barbaric actions."

"The burden of responsibility for preventing terrorist attacks rests with the Palestinian Authority government. Failure to act against terror will inevitably affect relations between that government and the international community," the statement said.

Meanwhile, two Palestinian militant groups – Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – have claimed joint responsibility for the suicide bombing. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is linked to Fatah.

However, Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abdul Rahman denounced the violence, saying his party, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was "against any operation that targets civilians, Israelis or Palestinians."

However, the bombing was praised by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, who described the attack as "a natural response to Israeli policy." "So long as there is occupation, resistance is legitimate," he argued.

Hamas, the radical Islamic group, controls the Palestinian parliament and Cabinet.

Eilat, located on the Red Sea near the Jordan-Egypt border, is a four-hour drive from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. As a massive barrier separates Israel from Gaza, it is unclear as to how the suicide bomber entered Israel.

At their peak four years ago, suicide bombings had killed hundreds of Israelis in numerous attacks.

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