26/12/2003 Four Israelis were killed and at least 18 others were wounded, two seriously, in a suicide bombing at a bus stop east of Tel Aviv during rush hour on Thursday. Following the attack, the Israel Defense Forces imposed a full closure on the territories . The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the bombing in a call to The Associated Press, saying it came in retaliation for the killing of two of its members last week. The group identified the bomber as Said Hanani, 18, from Beit Furik, a village east of the West Bank city of Nablus.
„This is the first operation in a series of retaliations. We swear to make an earthquake in the Zionist entity,” the PFLP statement said, referring to an IDF raid on Nablus last week. Two women were killed on the scene, one man died on the way to the hospital, and another woman died in Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva a few hours after the attack. A body apparently belonging to the suicide bomber was also found at the site of the attack. The blast took place at one of several bus stops under the Geha bridge on Jabotinsky Street, between Petah Tikva and Bnei Brak. The explosion reduced the bus stop to a skeletal frame and brought rush-hour traffic on one of Israel’s busiest roads to a stop. Rescue workers had difficulty reaching the scene because of heavy rush hour traffic at Geha, a major junction just outside Tel Aviv where Palestinian workers routinely gather to wait for people to pick them up for potential jobs, Tel Aviv district police commander Yossi Sedbon told Channel Two television. „This is an area where illegal Palestinian workers gather. A few months ago we arrested more than 100 Palestinians who were here illegally,” Sedbon said. The wounded were evacuated to Beilinson Hospital and Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv. „Tonight’s attack is another indication that the Palestinian Authority’s terror industry is always ready to strike Israel at any opportunity,” said David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office. He said security forces had prevented 22 suicide attacks within Israel since the previous attack within the Green Line took place on October 4. In that attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, killing 21 people. „This goes to show that Israel cannot let its guard down,” he said. The army received a warning Thursday afternoon that terrorists might try to infiltrate the Sharon region to carry out an attack, but the warning was not considered extreme enough to warrant setting up roadblocks in the area. BPI.