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Sharon: Lack of security becoming 'unbearable'

Israeli authorities examine a bus that was hit by an explosion in Jerusalem on Tuesday  

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Militants claim responsibility

Violence 'a great error'


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The "deterioration" of security in Israel is becoming "unbearable," Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell after two bombings in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Sharon's office said in a statement that the Israeli prime minister told Powell "people who conduct acts of terror will not get away without punishment and the Palestinian Authority will bear the consequences."

The statement said: "Not only is (Palestinian Authority President Yasser) Arafat declining to stop acts of terror, his forces are directly involved in attacks in full cooperation with Hezbollah and other terror organizations."

Sharon's statement came after two bomb blasts less than six hours apart rocked Jerusalem, killing one -- believed to be a suicide bomber -- and wounding at least 27.

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Palestinian extremist groups claimed responsibility for both bombings.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent said a Palestinian boy between the ages of 10 and 12 was shot in the chest and killed in the village of Dura near Hebron. It was not immediately known who fired the shot.

The boy's death came a day after a 10-month-old Israeli girl was killed in Hebron.

In a telephone call to Sharon from Powell, "the prime minister made clear that the deterioration in the status of security following the terror acts by the Palestinian Authority is unbearable," the statement from Sharon's office said.

Sharon opposes any international peacekeeping force to intervene in the Middle East, saying such a force would only reward terror, the statement said.

In Amman, Jordan, where Arab leaders convened a summit and were expected to offer a unified show of support for the Palestinians, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa dismissed Israel's complaints.

"The violence doesn't just come from the Palestinians," he said.

Observers considered it unlikely the Israelis would respond to the latest violence while the Arab summit was in session.

Militants claim responsibility

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the earlier bombing Tuesday, a car bomb that went off near a busy shopping center as the morning rush hour got under way. A previously unknown group said it was responsible for the second bombing, a suicide bomber who detonated explosives attached to his body alongside a bus in the city's French Hill section.

Police said the man was riding the bus and raised the suspicions of other riders. He left the bus just before the explosion.

Officials said one of the 22 wounded in the explosion suffered critical injuries and another was seriously wounded.

French Hill is a Jewish neighborhood in a disputed area of East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

The Associated Press reported that it received a leaflet claiming responsibility for the blast from a Palestinian group calling itself the "Popular Army Front."

At least five people were wounded in the first blast, which occurred in the city's Talpiot neighborhood. One person was seriously hurt. The rest were said to be "lightly" injured.

Police said some of those injured were passengers on a bus passing by the car, which officials believe was stolen.

An Israeli girl reacts at the site of an explosion outside a bus in Jerusalem on Tuesday  

Violence 'a great error'

Sharon said that Arafat bore the responsibility for the violence because he had "not instructed his forces to stop terror."

The former Israeli general pledged "restraint" in his dealings with the Palestinians, but promised "to take care of" the violence in the absence of action from Arafat.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the violence was "a great error" that could only damage the fragile peace process.

Nearly 500 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed since the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence began on September 28, after peace talks aimed at ending the five-decade old conflict fell apart during the summer.

Jerusalem, claimed by both the Israelis and Palestinians as a capital, is at the heart of the conflict. The Palestinians want sections of the ancient city they consider occupied by Israelis returned to them, and they want control of a religious shrine sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Jerusalem Bureau Chief Mike Hanna contributed to this report.

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The Israeli Prime Minister's Office
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Palestinian National Authority
Israel Defense Force
Israel Defense Forces

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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