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Attacks by Palestinians Leave 14 Dead

Sorry Kids, this is not "Martyrdom". This is another declaration of War.
Bus Bombed in Galilee; Ambushes Add to New Burst of Violence

JERUSALEM, Monday, Aug. 5 — A powerful bomb ripped apart an Israeli commuter bus in northern Galilee early Sunday morning, igniting a fireball that left 9 people dead and wounded 45, beginning a burst of widespread Palestinian violence that defied Israel's tough crackdown.

"There were mangled bodies everywhere," said Nissem Hozeh, a firefighter.

The bombing, at the beginning of the workweek here, was the first in a series of attacks that included a shootout near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City that left three people dead, two ambushes that wounded seven Israelis, and that culminated in a fifth attack, an ambush before dawn this morning on a car south of Nablus in the West Bank. The Israeli Army said a married couple were killed and two passengers were wounded in that raid.

In the gun battle, a man described by the police as a 19-year-old Palestinian fired on an Israeli telephone company repair truck, killing a security guard. The attacker and an Arab bystander were shot and killed by Israeli border police.

The bus attack was quickly condemned by President Bush, and the Israeli government said it would pursue the bombers "without mercy."

After at least 25 Israelis were killed in a string of attacks six weeks ago, an Israeli offensive had some success cutting down on violence. But the relative calm has vanished despite tight controls and curfews in seven West Bank Palestinian cities.

In a new tactic aimed at deterring suicide bombers, the Israeli Army on Sunday blew up nine houses of the families of past bombers around Nablus, Jenin and Hebron. Two other houses had been destroyed earlier in the weekend.

The search for militants and bomb factories that began after the Hebrew University bombing on Wednesday continued on Sunday, with elite soldiers of the paratroopers and Golani Brigade combing the twisted, covered alleys of Nablus's casbah. At least 50 Palestinians have been taken into custody in the Nablus action, and the army is keeping tight control, including curfews, over six other Palestinian cities and their surrounding villages.

The Palestinian attacks have intensified since the airstrike by Israel in Gaza on July 23 that killed Sheik Salah Shehada, the leader of the military wing of Hamas. In the strike, a one-ton bomb hit a densely populated Gaza residential neighborhood, killing 14 Palestinians besides Sheik Shehada, including 9 children. The bomb in a cafeteria at Hebrew University here killed 7 people, 5 of them American, and wounded scores. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hamas also claimed responsibility for the bus bombing on Sunday, calling it a "further riposte to the killing of our leader," Sheik Shehada, in a statement to the Beirut television station of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Israeli officials, however, continued to blame the increasingly marginalized Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat — isolated by Israeli troops surrounding his ruined compound and criticized for failure and corruption by many Palestinians — for the actions of Hamas, his rival for power.

"The Palestinian Authority continues to pour terror into Israel," David Baker, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said. "Israel is waging a battle to eradicate terror and make the streets of Israel safe for its citizens. Israel will fight Palestinian terror with a fervor. There is no other choice."

Mr. Sharon called off planned meetings with a few newly appointed Palestinian leaders whom the Americans consider to be reformers. Mr. Sharon's spokesman, Raanan Gissin, suggested there was little to talk about with a Palestinian leadership that continued to harbor and support terrorist activity. Another government spokesman, Avi Pazner, said Israel would pursue the bus bombers "without mercy."



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