Mike Hanna: Suicide attack jeopardizes cease-fire efforts
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A suicide bomber blew up a bus Wednesday in northern Israel, killing at least seven people. The new violence occurred as Israeli and Palestinian officials were working toward a cease-fire.
CNN Jerusalem Bureau Chief Mike Hanna talked about the attack Wednesday with CNN anchor Carol Costello.
HANNA: Carol, in the last few minutes, Israeli police have confirmed that the death toll has risen to seven. Seven Israelis were killed in an explosion on a bus that was traveling between Tel Aviv toward Nazareth in the north. According to eyewitnesses, a man got on the bus near the town of Um el-Fahm and detonated an explosive device. Also dead [is] the suicide bomber himself.
As many as 30 people were injured in the attack. Ambulance officials say that at least 10 of them are in serious condition.
The Islamic Jihad organization, a radical group, has claimed responsibility for the terror attack, identifying the suicide bombing as a 24-year-old from a village near the West Bank city of Jenin.
The Palestinian Authority has condemned the attack in a statement. Israel, too, has condemned the attack, but a spokesman for the Israeli government says it's evidence that the Palestinian Authority is not meeting its commitment to end all terror attacks against Israeli targets.
Despite the attack, it is reported that a preplanned cease-fire meeting between security chiefs from the two sides is going ahead [Wednesday]. This meeting had been planned in recent days and is being chaired by the U.S. special envoy, Gen. Anthony Zinni.
But the latest attack obviously puts immense strain and pressure on the cease-fire process, a process that has been taking place in a series of meetings between Israelis and Palestinians in recent days, the intention to implement a cease-fire plan drawn up by CIA Director George Tenet.
But this whole cease-fire move [is] in jeopardy with yet another attack on Israeli civilians.
COSTELLO: I guess, it brings up that old question, can Yasser Arafat control the suicide bombers?
HANNA: Yes, that is the question. The organization that has claimed responsibility, Islamic Jihad, is like another radical organization, Hamas, completely opposed to the peace process and completely opposed to the cease-fire talks that are going on at present. So they have been enemies of the peace process and theoretically of Yasser Arafat and his Fatah movement through a long period of time.
However, Israel is adamant that there is a causal connection between Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority and these ongoing suicide attacks regardless of what group claims responsibility for it. This is denied by the Palestinian Authority itself.
But certainly it does raise into question whether Yasser Arafat can meet his commitments in terms of any cease-fire plan. Among those commitments [is] to clamp down on militants and to stop terror attacks and the planning of terror attacks against Israeli targets.
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