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Nine Dead, 66 Wounded in Tel Aviv Suicide Bombing

By, Ha'aretz & VOA News

The calm of the Jewish Passover holiday week was shattered Monday when a 16-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at a fast-food restaurant near Tel Aviv's old bus station. The attack came shortly before 2 p.m.

At least 66 persons were wounded, with 15 sustaining moderate to severe injuries. The wounded were evacuated to local hospitals, among them, Ichilov, Beilinson, Wolfson, and Tel Hashomer. Of those seriously injured, at least five are reported to be in critical condition.

Police are investigating how the terrorist reached the Tel Aviv destination and whether any assistance was received by other terrorists still in the vicinity.

The Islamic Jihad terror group and the Al Aksa Brigades, the military wing of the Fatah party, have claimed they carried out the attack. Fatah is the party of PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) leader Mahmoud Abbas, and his predecessor, PLO terrorist chieftain Yasir Arafat. The bomber has been identified as 16-year-old Sami Salim Hamad of the Jenin area.

In 1993, Israel signed the Oslo Accords and ceded control of heavily populated Arab areas to the Palestinian Authority. When the accords were signed, the PLO and its largest component, Fatah, pledged in writing to refrain from carrying out terrorist attacks or from using violence of any kind against Israel.

The Al Aksa Brigades and the Islamic Jihad have been cooperating extensively to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel, especially since Hamas won a pivotal parliamentary election in the Palestinian Authority last January.

The fast food falafel stand, "Rosh Ha-Ir," in the vicinity of Tel Aviv's former central bus station, was the site of a terrorist attack three months ago, in which 32 people were injured in that attack, which was also carried out by the Islamic Jihad.

Following Monday's latest attack, Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi, put the nation on maximum alert, out of concern that the inauguration of the 17th Knesset, scheduled for Monday afternoon. Israel's security apparatus was faced with 19 specific terrorist threats, warning of an impending attack at a specific time and place. Eighty more general threats of attack have been reported to Israel's intelligence agencies. Karadi noted that the police had no specific warning of Monday's terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.

He said that the extent of the wounds sustained by the victims indicated that the explosive device had been a large one. Police estimates put the weight of the bomb as between 5-10 kilos. Islamic Jihad said that the device weighed 13 kilos.

An eyewitness told Israel radio of the horrible scene at the blast site. He said he heard a huge explosion and ran from his shop to where the bomb went off. He said he saw people covered in blood. It was terrible, he said.

An Arab television station later aired a video tape showing a young man, who identified himself as Sami Hamad of the Quds Brigade of Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for most of the suicide bombings over the past year.

In the video, Hamad said the bombing was dedicated to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. "There are many other bombers on the way," he said.

By Monday night, five of the victims had been identified as 60-year-old Victor Erez of Givatayim; Benjamin Haputa, 47, of Lod; 45-year-old Philip Balahsan of Ashdod; Rosalia Basanya, 48 and Boda Proshka, 50, both from Romania.

Monday's bombing was the first such attack since the terrorist Islamic group Hamas took over the reins of the Palestinian government last month.

In Jerusalem, just before attending the opening of the new legislative session in the Knesset, Prime Minister-designate Ehud Olmert told members of his Kadima Party that Israel was weighing its response. Olmert said consultations are under way to decide on how to respond to the bombing. He said there is no way to prevent all such attacks, but he warned Israel would know how to react and when.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the bombing, saying it runs counter to Palestinian interests. However, Hamas defended the attack as self defense. A Hamas spokesman said it was a "natural result" of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. He said the Israeli occupation is to blame.

The United States is condemning officials of Hamas, which now runs the Palestinian Authority, for remarks condoning the suicide attack. The White House said such an attitude will have a grave impact on relations between the Palestinian leadership and countries seeking Middle East peace.

The Bush administration reacted angrily Hamas' defense of the attack. In a statement, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the bombing at the Israeli food stand was a despicable act of terrorism for which no excuse or justification is possible.

McClelland further said a Palestinian government that encourages attacks on innocent people not only increases the level of violence against Israelis, but can only do great harm to the interests of the Palestinian people and ensure its own isolation.

The comments were echoed by State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack, who said the Hamas-led government had utterly failed in its first chance to show some statesmanship in the face of a terror attack:

"Given the opportunity, the first opportunity, to denounce an act of terror, to condemn an act of terror, Hamas has decided to condone it. That is, we are now seeing the true nature of this Hamas-led government," he said. "They would rather encourage 16-year-olds to go out, strap explosives to them, and go out and try to kill other 16-year-olds, other innocent civilians. That's the kind of government that you're dealing with."

The administration spokesmen reiterated that the U.S. would have no dealings with a government led by Hamas, a group long listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization, and they urged all countries to demand that it abandon support for terrorism.

In a related development, McCormack said the U.S. is seeking clarification from officials of Qatar about reports the Gulf state would, in addition to Iran, be providing $50 million to the Palestinian Authority. He said U.S. officials want to hear officials of Qatar, a longtime regional ally, precisely who would receive the funding and under what circumstances.

McCormack said even with $50 million from Qatar and a similar amount pledged by Iran that would only provide the Palestinian Authority with enough money to meet two-thirds of its payroll commitments for a single month.

WorldNetDaily's Jerusalem Bureau Chief Aaron Klein reported that the attack was not an isolated PA terror incident, but rather part of a larger-scale war against Israel organized by Iran. He said Iran was bankrolling and providing additional support for operatives of multiple terror networks to carry out attacks on the Jewish State.

"Iran is the paymaster for Hamas, as well as for Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyr's Brigades," Klein stated in an interview with IsraelNationalRadio's Yishai Fleisher and Alex Traiman.

This past week, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledged to fund the Hamas led Palestinian Authority government to the tune of $50 million, amidst diplomatic efforts by the Western world to cut off PA funding. Hamas has been deemed a terrorist entity by Israel, as well as by the State Department, and is directly responsible for the murders of hundreds of Israelis prior to winning the PA legislative elections in January.

Since Hamas entered into the legislature, they have not claimed responsibility for any terror incidents. Monday's suicide blast was jointly claimed by Islamic Jihad and the Al Aksa Martyr's Brigade. However, Hamas was quick to acknowledge the attack as "a natural result of the continued Israeli crimes against our people."

A Hamas spokesman further stated that the Tel Aviv murders were "a direct result of the policy of the occupation and the brutal aggression and siege committed against our people."

And while Hamas operatives have not claimed direct responsibility for planning the attacks, Klein asserted the terrorists are merely changing their address. "The fact of the matter is that a lot of the gunmen on the ground have switched over from Hamas to Islamic Jihad in recent weeks. It is the exact same terrorist carrying out the same terror attacks as before. I seriously doubt that this attack could have taken place without coordination with Hamas," Klein added.

In addition to funding Hamas' rogue regime, Ahmadinejad has been continuously calling for the eradication of Israel. This week the Iranian President referred to Israel as a "rotten tree," pledging to remove the "threat on the Islamic world" posed by Israel.

Iran, the world's largest supplier of natural gas, claims to be rapidly advancing its nuclear program. According to Klein, Iran may already possess the ability to set off a nuclear blast via rocket or suitcase bomb. Other security experts maintain Iran will become part of the nuclear club within a number of months to a few years.

Reports from Lebanon state that Iran is increasing its influence over the Hizbullah terror organization operating along Israel's northern border. The Lebanese border has been the source of numerous rocket attacks and infiltrations over the past several months and years.

Iran has also pledged assistance to Syrian president Bashar Assad. Israeli Defense officials have also suggested that any weapons of mass destruction previously held by Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime were transported by truck to Syria prior to the United State's invasion three years ago. Klein believes Ahmadinejad is "the new Saddam Hussein."

Monday's terror attack came just hours before the 17th Israeli Knesset was sworn into office. Prior to the Knesset ceremony, Olmert declared "We will know how to respond, we know what to do," in response to the latest Arab act of terror on Israelis.

The previous 16th Knesset was responsible for the Israeli surrender of Gush Katif as a result of continued Arab terror, and the destruction of 21 Jewish communities there.

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared at the time that the evacuation would result in greater security and a reduction of terror attacks emanating from Gaza. However, Klein asserted that on the average, 10 rockets [per day] are now being fired on Southern Israel from Gaza.

Israeli Defense officials have asserted that in addition to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the international terror group Al Qaeda are now establishing a presence in Gaza as well.

Klein stated that the withdrawal from Gaza "has merely whetted the appetite of the terrorists," and stated that the terrorists themselves have vowed that the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria (commonly referred to as the West Bank) are next before the liberation of all of Israel including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv."

The ruling Kadima party, with 29 of the 120 mandates in the 17th Knesset, has pledged to continue Sharon's policy of withdrawal, declaring that additional evacuations of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will be complete by 2008.

Kadima and other Israeli left-wing party leaders have suggested that withdrawal is the only practical method of dealing with the existential terror threat posed by Arabs. In June 2005, Olmert said during a speech that Israel is "tired of fighting" the war on terror.

Among the towns currently being evaluated for evacuation are the biblical holy sites of Beit El, Shilo, Eli, Shechem, Bethlehem, and Hebron. Israeli politicians have also discussed the ceding of East Jerusalem, up to and including the Temple Mount.

Bill Gates Behind Gaza Greenhouse Handover to PA


Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, was behind the transfer of profitable high-tech Jewish greenhouses in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Arab rioters subsequently destroyed many of the greenhouses.

Gates' charitable foundation, the largest in the world, provided the bulk of the funds used to purchase the greenhouses from Gush Katif residents at rock-bottom prices, to be handed over to the PA, according to Forbes magazine.

A foundation representative contacted by WorldNetDaily confirmed the report. "The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed $10 million to facilitate the transfer of the greenhouses," he said. "This was a unique grant, made quickly and quietly because we believed it was in the best interest of all parties and would enhance the peace process."

The donation falls outside the stated focus of the foundation, which is global health. The foundation has traditionally stayed away from taking a side in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Until the Forbes report, a request to keep the source of the money confidential had been honored by all the parties involved.

Prior to the Disengagement, Israel's bug-free greens were grown in the advanced Gush Katif greenhouses and Gush Katif farmers exported more than $100 million in produce to Europe annually.

In a hasty $14 million deal brokered by former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, the greenhouses were transferred to the Palestinian Authority. The PA then took responsibility for the facilities, but failed to protect them from looters following the withdrawal of the Israeli military. PA security personnel assigned to protect the greenhouses reportedly took part in the looting as well.

The greenhouses that survived are not being successfully used, as PA farmers complain that they are having trouble reproducing the bug-free produce grown by the greenhouses' former Jewish owners. WorldNetDaily reported hat the Arabs have asked the U.S. governmental development group USAID to hire back the expelled Israelis as consultants for the declining vegetable businesses.

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