17 Year-old Suicide Bomber Strikes Six Dead
Six Israeli people were killed and 86 wounded when a woman suicide bomber blew herself up at a bus stop on Jaffa road near Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda open-air market. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a military wing of the Palestinian Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack. The announcement was made made on the Hezbollah television station Al-Manar.
According to Israeli reports, the attack was carried out by a woman who attempted to enter the nearby Mahane Yehuda market, but was deterred by the large number of police and soldiers on duty in the area. She then blew herself up next to a bus stop, on one of the city's main roads, Jaffa Street.
The woman was later identified as 17-year-old
Nidal Daraghni, from Jenin refugee camp.
United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan condemned the suicide attack as "morally repugnant" and called on both Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to cooperate with Powell.
The way out of the crisis was for both sides to move toward an immediate cease-fire and then to negotiations "on a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement," Annan said.
The White House demanded that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemn the bombing – then postponed a meeting scheduled between Arafat and US Secretary oif State Colin Powell.
Powell was reportedly flying over Jerusalem on his way to an aerial tour of the northern border when the attack took place.
"The president was very troubled by what happened this morning, and the president expects Yasser Arafat to denounce this morning's attack, to step up and show leadership," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
The US Bush administration remains firm on demanding an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian Territories. But has been careful not to stress the US/Israeli relationship further while Powell is in the Middle East.
The United States gives Israel US$3 billion in military and economic aid per year. A Time-CNN poll taken in the US today showed a majority of Americans favouring a cut to aid money sent to Israel – particularly as it refused to listen to the US when given an order to withdraw from Palestinian territories.
In contrast, in Israel, a Maariv newspaper poll showed 75 percent of Israelis supporting the offensive and Sharon's approval rating soaring to 59 percent from 35 percent since the operation began.
In an interview with US based CBS Evening News, filmed minutes before a female Palestinian suicide bomber blew herself, Sharon said there would never be peace as long as Yasser Arafat was the leader of the Palestinian people.
Powell failed today to lever a withdrawal-timetable from Israel’s PM Ariel Sharon.
Sharon emerged from the Powell meeting insisting his army’s offensive would continue: “The terrorism of suicide bombers represents a danger for Israel and for the entire free world. Israel is the only democracy in the world in which there are guards in every school and in every kindergarten in order to protect children against Palestinian terrorists,” Sharon said.
Powell said in a Q&A statement: “We understand the need for Israel to defend itself. We understand that Israel is under threat from terrorist attack and we have been supportive. But at the same time, we believe, as a friend of Israel, we have to take note of the long-term strategic consequences of the incursions that are under way, and their effect on the nations in the region and the international climate.”
A meeting had been scheduled for Powell to meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in his besieged compound in Ramallah – but that meeting was postponed today after news of another suicide bomber had struck in Jerusalem. The United States again demanded the Palestinian Authority denounce the attacks, call for a ceasefire, and demand militant wings inter-related to the Palestinian cause end acts of terrorism.
In Geneva, United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan said the situation in the West Bank was "so dangerous and the humanitarian and human rights situation so appalling (that) the proposition that a [UN peacemaking] force should be sent in there ... can no longer be deferred."
"It is urgent, it is imperative," Annan said. "That capacity exists in the world today. We must now muster the will."
While it would be up
to the Security Council to deploy a U.N. peacekeeping force,
organizing a multinational force would be up to individual
countries. These countries could then go to the Security
Council for a mandate if they chose to. In this case, Annan
was calling for the council to endorse such a force before
any of its key members suggested it.
First published at www.spectator.co.nz