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Jerrold Kessel: Defiance dominates Israeli mood

CNN Correspondent Jerrold Kessel went to the scene shortly after a suicide bomber blew apart a pizza restaurant in central Jerusalem. He talked to witnesses as well as victims, and says he saw a change in the mood among Israelis.

What we saw at first was the kind of grim, grisly realization of how bad it was. One of two sisters who runs a coffee shop nearby told me at first everyone was crying. She said most people had tears in their eyes. "First," she said. "It's the pain. It doesn't translate right away into feelings of revenge."

The first stage was pandemonium. After that it was strangely controlled and subdued.

CNN coverage of the explosion and crews helping the injured (August 9)

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Incidents reported on West Bank, Gaza  
In focus: Suicide bombers heroes at home  
In-depth: Mideast struggle for peace  
Gallery: Scenes from the aftermath of the bomb  
Statement from Islamic Jihad  
Palestinian Cabinet member Hanan Ashrawi reacts to what he calls "Israel's policy for deliberate assassination"
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Israel's Internal Security Minister Uzi Landau responds to the suicide attack in Jerusalem.
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Usually you have angry crowds assembling. They didn't do that this time. There were only about 15 kids who were barely shouting.

It was a change in Israeli mood from resigned to rather defiant, laced with anger.

The first thing you saw there was the pain. The hopelessness was there. Then there was helplessness, defiance, and vengeance.

I believe Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon already feels all those things. The question is what does he do with it.

I sense there is almost a controlled mood. It is a very defiant and determined mood. That can translate into all kinds of things.

After the bombing in Tel Aviv that killed 21 people there was stoning of Arabs. I don't think you will see this.

There is a real sense of a real confrontation. People are far more calculated. They are not thinking, "How do we strike back?" They are thinking, "What do we do to win?"

The fact that the mood is controlled doesn't mean that Israelis have softened. You can bet there will be a response. The question is what form that response will take.

I saw some polling numbers last night. Sharon's numbers are up. Why? The policy of trying to take out the militants. That is actively supported. I think it (Sharon's popularity) will be even strengthened by this. That is the mood of the people.

There was a time Israelis were angry and disappointed. They felt they had offered the Palestinians much of what they wanted and the Palestinians had spit in their faces.

The period of disappointment is over. Now Israelis want to beat them and win the war.

• Israel Defense Forces
• Palestinian National Authority

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