Abbas: Tel Aviv Bombing a ‘Despicable Act of Terror’
Palestine Media Center – PMC
While more than 80 Israeli military vehicles were storming Monday into the largest West Bank city of Nablus, under a five-year old siege, a 21-year old Palestinian blew himself up in Tel Aviv killing nine people, which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned as a “despicable act of terror,” though Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh declined to comment, but spokesman of his Hamas-led Cabinet described the attack as “self-defense.”
The ongoing Israeli military escalation and siege claimed more than 24 Palestinian lives in April. 14 Palestinian deaths were reported in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during a week, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported on Saturday.
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) fired 2,000 rockets on the Gaza Strip in the last couple of weeks, including 400 rockets in the last two days, a statement from the IOF spokesman read Sunday.
Monday’s bombing attack in Tel Aviv, claimed by Islamic Jihad and carried out by Samer Salim Mohammad Hammad, 21, from the West Bank village of Arakeh, killed nine people and wounded 49.
Abbas, arriving from Jordan, told reporters the attack was “an act of terror and a despicable act that is also beyond the national Palestinian consensus and causes damage to Palestinian national interests.”
Separately, a statement from his office said that “President Abbas condemns this terrorist attack at the old bus station in Tel Aviv which has caused death and injuries among Israeli civilians.”
“This attack violates the Palestinian national consensus and runs contrary to our interests, … and we as an authority and government must move to stop it … We will not stop pursuing anyone who carries out such attacks,” added the statement released by the official WAFA news agency.
Abbas urged Middle East powerbrokers to help stem “the grave deterioration that the region is witnessing.”
On Monday the United Nations Secretary-General condemned Tel Aviv attack and said that he was planning to host a meeting of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet in New York on May 9.
“We are arranging for the Quartet to meet on April 9 to discuss the situation on the ground” as well as prospects for the Quartet's roadmap for a settlement leading to the creation of a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, he told reporters.
“We are also likely to bring in our regional partners from the Middle East who will participate in the meeting and think through the issues with us,” Annan added.
Palestinian Observer Blasts ‘Double Standards’
Meanwhile the Palestinian UN observer, Riyad Mansour, condemned Monday's bombing in Tel Aviv and the loss of innocent civilians on both sides, but attacked Israel for trying to portray its latest military escalation — which killed 21 Palestinians from April 7-9 — as a response to violence from the Palestinian territories.
“Israel, the occupying power has been relentless in its grave breaches of international law, including the willful killing and injury of civilians and the practice of extra-judicial executions,” he said.
“What the Israeli government is doing and what it has been doing throughout its nearly 39-year-old military occupation is clearly intended to serve its clear political objectives of inflicting maximum pain, suffering and loss on the Palestinian people while it entrenches its occupation,” he added.
Mansour urged the UN Security Council and the international community to condemn the Israeli attacks and take measures to halt the latest escalation.
He said “double standards” in which the international community remains silent as Israelis kill Palestinian civilians while the Palestinians are punished by economic and political isolation for democratically electing their government are unacceptable.
“Any calls on the Palestinian side will only be viewed as hypocritical if they are not met by equal pressure on the occupying power to put an end to its harsh military measures, to end its subjugation of the Palestinian people and accept their rights to live in freedom and security, under the protection of international law,” Mansour warned.
The United States, which on Friday blocked a United Nations Security Council statement that would have urged Israel to stop its “excessive use of force” against the Palestinians, was quick to prove right Mansour’s accusation of “double standards” when the White House condemned Monday’s Tel Aviv attack as “a despicable act of terror for which there is no excuse or justification.”
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) tank shelling killed 17-year old Palestinian Mamdouh Obeid in northern Gaza Strip on Monday, raising the Palestinian death toll to more than 4,085 since the outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada (uprising) on September 28, 2000 against the 39-year old Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967.
Israel Braces for Military Escalation, Tightened Siege
The Israeli Government was holding an emergency cabinet meeting last night to plan its response to Tel Aviv bombing.
“We shall, of course, continue to use all means at our disposal to prevent every other attempt,” Israeli Prime Minister-designate Ehud Olmert said.
Israeli “Defense” Minister Shaul Mofaz met with top security officials Monday night to discuss how the IOF should react, and proposed several steps, which are subject to Olmert's approval. These, according to Haaretz on Tuesday, include:
--- Stricter implementation of the policy of separating the West Bank into sections, in an effort to prevent Palestinians from moving from one section to another, especially from the Jenin and Tul Karm areas to Nablus and Ramallah.
--- Continued assassination of senior Islamic Jihad officials in the Gaza Strip and extended operations against Qassam-launching networks.
--- Expansion of major IOF patrol and arrest operations in the Jenin and Tul Karm areas (targeting Islamic Jihad) and in Nablus (targeting Jihad, Fatah and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine networks).
--- Expansion of activity within the Green Line in an effort to expel Palestinians living in Israel illegally and arrest Israelis who help them get into Israel.
--- Continued closure of the Israeli-occupied territories.
PM Haniyeh Silent, Hamas Holds Israel Responsible
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had no comment on Tel Aviv bombing.
Some senior IOF officials have been arguing to take direct action against the Hamas government.
In an interview last week Haniyeh distanced himself from such attacks. “We do not give instructions, at all, to any party on the ground. The government does not instruct them at all,” he said.
However the spokesman of Haniyeh’s Cabinet, Ghazi Hamad, held Israel responsible.
“The Israeli occupation bears responsibility for the consequences of its policies. We have continuously repeated that the occupation is the reason for the cycle of violence. The killing, the assassinations and the bombings of Palestinian areas have resulted in the deaths of 20 Palestinians and the wounding of 85 in less than two weeks. The various groups have called for civilians not to be involved in the violence but the occupation is not bound by this,” Hamad said.
“Only the end of the occupation can bring about stability and security in the region,” he added.
Similarly the Palestinian Interior Ministry’s spokesman, Khaled Abu Helal, said that, “This operation ... is a direct result of the policy of the occupation and the brutal aggression and siege committed against our people.”
Separately the official spokesman of the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas,” Sami Abu Zuhri, said the attack was an act of “self-defense” which he said was a reaction to “the continued Israeli crimes against our people.”
“Our people are in a state of self-defense and they have every right to use all means to defend themselves,” he added.
White House Warns Hamas Government
Meanwhile the United States on Monday warned the new Hamas government against any sponsorship of “terrorism.”
“Defense or sponsorship of terrorist acts by officials of the Palestinian cabinet will have the gravest effects on relations between the Palestinian Authority and all states seeking peace in the Middle East,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
A Palestinian government that encouraged or tolerated terrorism would harm the interests of the Palestinians and “ensure its own further isolation,” he added.
But Israel held Hamas ultimately responsible, because it is “giving support to all the other terrorist organizations. From our point of view it doesn't matter if it comes from Al Aqsa, Islamic Jihad or Hamas. They all come out of the same school of terrorism led by Hamas,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Gideon Meir said.
Ehud Olmert’s Spokesman Raanan Gissin said the Hamas government offers more encouragement to terrorists than former governments.