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Two Palestinian homicide bombers murder two Israelis and kill chances for Palestinian State
The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com) reports that two Palestinian homicide bombers, one from the Hamas (Islamic Resistance) and one from Arafat's Al-Aksa brigades have murdered two Israelis after blowing themselves up:
Two Palestinian suicide bombers struck Tuesday morning, one in Rosh Ha'ayin and another just outside Ariel, murdering two Israelis and wounding 12 in almost simultaneous attacks that shattered the month-and-a-half-long relative calm of the hudna cease-fire.
So much for the "cease fire". So much for a "Palestinian State".
Suicide bombers murder 2 in Rosh Ha'ayin, Ariel
Yehezkel Yekutieli, 43, the father of two, was killed and 10 were wounded in the Rosh Ha'ayin attack, while Erez Hershkovitz, 18, who had just completed his basic training in the IDF, was slain and two others were seriously wounded in the Ariel attack. Remaining hospitalized Tuesday night were a four-year-old and his mother and two others in serious condition. Both victims were buried on Tuesday evening.
The bombings the bloodiest attacks since Palestinian terrorist organizations declared a unilateral cease-fire in late June followed threats by Hamas that it would retaliate for Israel's Friday raid on a Nablus bomb factory.
Hamas took responsibility for the Ariel attack, yet announced that it would remain committed to the hudna through its September 29 expiration date. Fatah's al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which has denounced both the road map and the hudna, claimed the Rosh Ha'ayin attack.
Israel responded immediately by temporarily scrapping the release of some 80 Palestinian prisoners who were to be freed as part of a good-will gesture to the Palestinian Authority.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also warned Tuesday morning that the peace process would stall, delaying the creation of a Palestinian state, unless the PA worked to "stop completely" the terrorist organizations operating in Palestinian cities.
Security sources said they have no intention of throwing Israel into another cycle of bloodshed, but added that Israel will "eliminate anyone who plans to harm Israelis."
Just after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, suicide bomber Islam Yousef Kteyshat, 17, strode into the Hatzi Kupa supermarket in the town's upscale Neveh Afeka neighborhood, passing the market's guard undetected, and detonated himself near the cash registers.
"He entered the store, turned his back to the cashier, and blew himself up," said Sharon area police chief Dep.-Cmdr. Amichai Shai. He opened his hand to reveal some of the ball bearings packed into what police estimated was a 3-kg. bomb.
Less than half an hour after the Rosh Ha'ayin attack, suicide bomber Islam Yousef Kteyshat, 17, of Nablus approached a bus stop on the Trans-Samaria Highway and blew himself up, killing Erez Hershkovitz, 18, and wounding three others.
The IDF placed curfews on nearby villages and carried out sweeps to locate others possibly involved in the attack. None was apprehended.
The Ariel junction was previously the scene of two suicide bombings, one at the gas station and the other at the supermarket. Supermarket checkout clerk Ludmilla Aldov, 47, hardly seemed fazed by the bombing not 200 meters from her.
"I was sitting right here and I heard the bomb. It was the third bombing I have experienced. What can I do? I need to work," said Aldov, an immigrant from Ukraine who has lived in Ariel for three years. "I keep on coming."
Shortly after the bombings, police chased and then arrested a man driving a white Skoda on suspicion of driving the Rosh Ha'ayin suicide bomber. The IDF also closed off the entrances to Kalkilya and imposed a curfew on the nearby village of Azun. Troops arrested several Palestinians in the village who were suspected of involvement in the suicide bombings.
IDF Samaria region commander Col. Harel Knafo maintained that the two bombings were not linked, although both bombers originated in Nablus, and despite the increasing cooperation, and a disintegration of party lines, among terrorist groups in the city.
Only minutes before the explosion, Sharon area police received a direct intelligence alert of an attack in the area and even sent an officer to Neveh Afeka, where Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishky lives, to scout for terrorists. He was too late by minutes, recounted Shai. He heard the bombing from his car.
The supermarket lies just 300 meters from the Green Line and about a kilometer from the Trans-Samaria Highway. Aharonishky told residents of the area not to leave home unless it was necessary. Traffic built up from improvised checkpoints set up by police in the area, causing snarls kilometers long.
The force of the blast shattered much of the front fa ade of the supermarket, strewing glass and body parts into an adjacent parking lot and nearby shrubbery. The other stores in the open-air mall were unaffected, though some of the clerks and security guards on duty suffered from shock.
Minister for Internal Security Tzahi Hanegbi dismissed speculation a tough military response to the attacks could destroy the hudna. "The hudna is a cease-fire only among the Palestinians; it is the path the Palestinians have found to avoid implementing the agreements between us and them. We know that this hudna will eventually explode," he told Channel 1.
The PA condemned both attacks as Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas cut short his tour of the Gulf states.
The PA responded angrily to Israel's accusations that it failed to live up to the road map, saying that security responsibility in cities like Nablus remains fully in Israel's hands. "We do what we can where we have authority, like in Gaza and Bethlehem, but we can do nothing in Nablus," Elias Zanariri, a close aide to PA Minister of State for Security Affairs Muhammad Dahlan told The Jerusalem Post.
The Palestinians have been increasingly relating each security success they have first to the Americans and then to Israel, "because we know the Americans are unbiased," said Zanariri.
Arieh O'Sullivan contributed to this report.
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