Israel has approved a series of military actions against Palestinian extremists linked to Monday's suicide bombing at an Israeli shopping mall that killed five people. Media reports said operations were expected to begin late Monday and include targeted killings of militant leaders. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he was seeking approval to resume the practice of demolishing the homes of suicide bombers, halted earlier this year.
The suicide bomber detonated his bomb just outside the entrance to a shopping mall in the Israeli seaside city, Netanya, about 25 kilometers north of Tel Aviv, killing and wounding security guards and people waiting in line to enter the complex.
It was the second such attack in Netanya this year and the first suicide bombing in Israel since October 26, when six people were killed in a suicide bombing of Hadera.
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the bomber came from a northern West Bank village. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the bombing, saying all those involved would be arrested. Speaking outside Israel's Foreign Ministry, spokesman Mark Regev told journalists that Mr. Abbas needs to do more to control militants.
"The Palestinian Authority has promised, not just Israel, but the entire International community, that it will start to disarm these groups and take the guns away from extremist elements, and unfortunately little has been achieved," he said. "We urge the Palestinian Authority to follow through on its commitment to disarm these killers."
It is not clear what impact Monday's bombing will have on a shaky truce between Israel and Palestinian groups that has been in effect for most of this year. Palestinian Authority spokesman Saeb Erekat told reporters in Ramallah in the West Bank, that he hoped the truce, or "hudna" will remain in effect.
"We still believe that exerting the maximum effort to maintain the "hudna" [truce] between the two sides mutually, serves both sides interests," he said.
Israel's military responded to the October bombing with air and missile strikes that killed several senior Palestinian militants. Israeli authorities have also arrested hundreds of suspected militants in the West Bank in recent weeks.
Monday's bombing followed rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, in recent days. In the past few days, Palestinian militants launched rocket strikes against Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip border and Israel responded with air and artillery strikes against Palestinian positions inside Gaza. Speaking Monday, before the Netanya bombing, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he had given approval to resume targeted killings of Palestinian militants in response to attacks against Israeli territory.