Explosion in Tel Aviv injures at least 40, kills at least 8

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tel Aviv police report that a Palestinian suicide bomber has caused an explosion at a restaurant in central Tel Aviv. Eight people are reported dead and at least 40 injured in the blast.

Two of the victims died after they had arrived at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Of the wounded, six were seriously hurt, 12 sustained moderate wounds, while the rest were lightly injured.

A suicide bomber targeted the same restaurant, “The Mayor’s Felafel,” on January 19. At least 20 were wounded in that attack. The restaurant was reportedly full of holiday travellers.

Palestinian group Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the attack, as it has for six suicide bombings carried out since a cease-fire was declared in February 2005. Palestinian sources identified the bomber as Sami Salim Hamad, an Islamic Jihad activist from the village of Qabatiyah, on outskirts of the West Bank city of Jenin, where the Battle of Jenin occurred in 2002.

The suicide bombing was the first since Hamas took over the government of the Palestinian Authority less than three weeks ago. On Sunday, Islamic Jihad pledged to carry out more attacks.

The Bush administration has strongly criticized the attacks, calling it "a despicable act of terror for which there is no excuse or justification." Khaled Abu Helal, spokesman for the Hamas-led Interior Ministry, called the attack "a direct result of the policy of the occupation and the brutal aggression and siege committed against our people."

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Gideon Meir said Israel held Hamas responsible for the attacks, accusing it of "giving support to all the other terrorist organizations."

The known deceased: Piroska Boda (50): citizenship: Romanian, nationality: Hungarian, foreign worker in Natanja, spending Easter holidays in Tel Aviv Rozália Besenyei (48): citizenship: Romanian, nationality: Hungarian 7 others are known to be of Israeli citizenship