Explosion in central Tel Aviv nightclub

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Four are dead and fifty injured after a suicide bomber set off an explosion at a nightclub in central Tel Aviv. The blast was in the queue going into the club, Stage, on the main promenade. The bomber had been stopped from entering the club by security guards just before the explosion.

At first the militant groups Hezbollah, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Islamic Jihad and Hamas all denied involvement, but according to the BBC the Islamic Jihad later claimed responsibility for the blast. A spokesman for the group stated that "Israel has not abided by the pacification period. This is the main reason that led to this operation".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas released a statement after a meeting with his security chiefs:

The Palestinian Authority will not stand silent in the face of this act of sabotage. We will follow and track down those responsible and they will be punished accordingly.
What happened tonight was an act of sabotage toward the peace process and an attempt to ruin the efforts to establish a state of calm.

The swift condemnation and call for action by the Palestinian leader has caused Israeli officials to declare that the attack, the first since an informal truce began early this month, would not derail the peace process. It was also the first suicide bombing in Israel in almost 4 months, during which pullbacks from occupied territories have been announced, and Palestinian prisoners have been released.