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Suicide Bomber Strikes Israeli Resort

  • Jim Teeple

A Palestinian suicide bomber has killed himself and three Israelis in the resort city, Eilat, on the Red Sea. As VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem two Palestinian militant groups have claimed joint responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses say they saw a man in a heavy coat approach a bakery in a residential neighborhood of Eilat. A short while later, a massive explosion shook the area. Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld says evidence collected at the site quickly confirmed that a suicide bombing had taken place.

"We could confirm, based on the explosives on the body, that there was a connection between them and it was a suicide bomber," he said.

Two Palestinian militant groups, Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, have claimed joint responsibility for the attack, saying the bomber was 21-year-old Mohammed Saksak from Gaza City. The two groups say the bombing was carried out to show Palestinians they should attack Israel instead of each other. Palestinian infighting has claimed more than 60 lives, during the past month. The two groups say the bomber was infiltrated from Jordan, after seven months of planning.

A spokesman for Hamas, which controls the Palestinian government, called the bombing a natural response to Israel's policies. One of the groups claiming responsibility for the bombing -- the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade - is affiliated with Palestinian President Mahoud Abbes' Fatah movement, but a spokesman for Fatah condemned the attack.

Monday's attack was the first suicide bombing ever to take place in Eilat and the first in Israel since last April, when more than ten people were killed in a bombing in Tel Aviv also claimed by Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip went into effect last November. Israeli authorities said Monday they were still investigating the attack, but that they will not tolerate terrorist attacks against Israel.

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