First suicide attack since Israeli pullout occurs in Beersheba

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: "We condemn such attacks. We don't accept them, and we call on everyone to refrain from retaliation." (file photo)

A Palestinian man carrying explosives blew himself up during rush hour in Beersheba. This is the first act of suicidal bombing since the Israel pull out of the 25 Jewish settlements on the Gaza Strip.

Twelve hours after the blast, two groups jointly claimed responsibility for the attack. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades linked to Fatah and Al-Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad identified the bomber as Alaa Zaakik, 25, from Beit Omar. Beit Omar is situated between Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has condemned the bombing. The bombing critically wounded two security guards at the Beersheba bus station and hurt another 46 people.

Shortly after the attack, the Israeli cabinet voted to allow Egypt to patrol the international border with Gaza with 750 armed men. A final vote, which is expected to pass in a special Israeli Parliament session on Wednesday, will allow Israel to pull all its soldiers out of Gaza in the next month.

An Israeli official, Raanan Gissin, aide to prime minister Ariel Sharon, commented on the bombing. He described the attack as "a wake-up call that brings us back to the reality of terrorism after the euphoria of the Gaza disengagement." He later said, "As long as the Palestinians don't take decisive action against terrorism this will continue, and Abbas's strategy of making political deals with terrorist organizations will come back to haunt him." Mr. Gissin concluded his statement by saying. "They smell that he's weak, and they'll keep pressing."