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Suicide bomber kills 2 Israeli soldiers

BINYAMINA, Israel (CNN) -- A suicide bomber set off a blast on Monday at a railroad station in Binyamina, a small town on the Israeli coastal plain, authorities said, killing himself and two Israeli soldiers, one of them a woman.

The militant Palestinian group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the blast and identified the bomber as Nidal Shadouf, 20, from the West Bank town of Jenin.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack. "The Palestinian leadership expresses its condemnation of the incident which led to the killing of civilians and calls for a cessation of all violent actions and incitement by all parties," the authority said in a statement.

In retaliation, Israeli tanks shelled four Palestinian military posts: one of them south of the cities of Jenin and the other three near Tulkarem in the West Bank, Israeli military sources said.

CNN's Mike Hanna reports on the blast that left two Israeli soldiers dead (July 16)

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Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to discuss peace. CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports (July 15)

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Israeli right criticises Sharon
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Six other people were hurt, rescue officials said, three of them seriously. One of the wounded is a soldier, and army spokesman said. Several other people were reported to be in shock.

Police initially said they believed the blast was from a car bomb but later said the blast was the work of a suicide bomber.

They said a car dropped off the man who was standing at a bus stop near the station entrance when he set off his bomb.

Authorities said they had a description of the car believed to have dropped the suicide bomber at the station and were looking for it with helicopters.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Ra'anan Gissin, blamed the Palestinian Authority and said talks between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat in Cairo apparently achieved nothing.

Gissin said after Israel extended a hand toward the Palestinians it was met with "a terror attack in the heartland of Israel."

He said Israel will follow the policy of responding to such incidents but would not say what the government intended to do.

The Palestinian Authority did not comment on Gissin's remarks.

Binyamina is located about midway between Haifa and Netanya in northern Israel.

After their meeting in Cairo, Peres said he and Arafat had agreed to maintain regular contact and strengthen cooperation on security and civilian levels.

Peres said the contacts are aimed at preventing misunderstandings, promoting the cease-fire, and dealing with violations of the truce, Peres said.

Overnight Monday, the Israeli army destroyed several posts of Force 17, a premier Palestinian security unit, when tanks and ground forces briefly penetrated Palestinian-controlled Hebron, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF said the Israeli army, along with Jewish settlers, had been under "massive" and "ongoing" attacks by Palestinian gunmen from four sites in Hebron when Israeli forces struck back. Two Palestinians were injured, one seriously.

"After ongoing requests to stop the firing, the IDF opened fire on two out of the four Palestinian firing positions on foot and fired a tank shell from outside the Palestinian area," an IDF spokesman said.

Initially, the IDF said, no Israeli tanks had entered Area A, an area of the West Bank under Palestinian control, but later said "armored vehicles" went into the Palestinian-controlled area for 10 minutes to protect Israeli troops on the ground.

In addition, two Palestinian men, ages 19 and 21, from the Bethlehem area were found dead at the scene of an explosion near the site where the Maccabiah Games are expected to start on Monday, said Israeli police.

Israeli police do not believe the blast was a suicide attack, but instead think the bomb, described as medium-sized, exploded prematurely and may have been intended, because of the proximity, for "Teddy" stadium, site of the Maccabiah Games, an Olympic-style event in which contingents of Jewish athletes from countries throughout the world compete in sporting events.

Security officials said the games will go on as planned.

• Palestinian Authority
• Israel Defense Forces

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