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Latest terror attacks kill 12

bus attack
Eight people died in the suicide bombing of this bus Sunday, not counting the bomber.  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A series of terror attacks have killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others in the Mideast since Sunday morning.

The first and most deadly attack came when a Palestinian bomber set off a powerful explosion on a bus in northern Israel, killing eight people and himself.

Hours later, a Palestinian gunman opened fire in Jerusalem, sparking a shootout with police that left three dead, including the gunman.

The most recent terror attack came early Monday morning when a car carrying an Israeli couple and their two children was ambushed on a main road in the West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The parents were killed and the children were taken to a hospital. Their conditions were not known.

In the bus attack, about 50 people were wounded, two of them critically and 10 seriously, according to ambulance services.

The explosion ripped apart Egged Bus 361 as it left a station at Meron Junction near the northern city of Safed -- also known as Tsfat -- shortly before 9 a.m. (2 a.m. ET). (At the scene)

The bus originated in the coastal city of Haifa and made stops on its way across the northern Galilee region, including several Israeli Arab villages.

The military wing of Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, claimed responsibility for the bus bombing, saying it was to avenge the Israeli airstrike that killed its military commander and 14 other people, including nine children.

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It also said Sunday's attack was carried out to show its displeasure with results of a U.N.-sponsored investigation into the Israeli incursion into the Jenin refugee camp in April.

The United Nations issued a report Thursday that was critical of both Israel and the Palestinians, but concluded that Palestinian allegations that 500 people were killed in Jenin have "not been substantiated in light of the evidence that has emerged."

The Israeli government identified seven of the bus attack victims: Mordechai Friedman, 21, of Jerusalem; Sari Goldstein, 20, of Carmiel; Massoun Amin Hassan, 23, of Sajur; Marlene Menachem, 20, of Moshav Safsufa; Staff Sgt. Roni Ghanem, 28, of Maghar; Sgt. Yifat Gavrieli, 19, of Mitzpe Adi; and Sgt. Omri Goldin, 20, of Mitzpe Aviv.

In the second incident, which took place near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, police said a 19-year-old Palestinian man jumped on the running board of an Israeli phone company truck and opened fire.

Yekutiel Amitai, 32, of Jerusalem, an Israeli security guard who was in the passenger seat, was killed, the Israeli government said.

The gunman then ran toward a cafe, where border police shot and killed him. A customer inside the cafe, believed to be an Israeli Arab, was killed in the crossfire. He was identified as Nizal Awassat, 51.

At least 17 other people were injured, two of them critically. The Israeli government said Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility.

Also Sunday, four people were wounded, one of them seriously, when shots were fired at a bus near the West Bank town of Tulkarem.

In a separate West Bank incident, three Israelis were seriously wounded when a bomb exploded while they were traveling in a vehicle north of Ramallah, the Israeli government said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responded to the bus attack before his weekly Cabinet meeting.

"The terrorism continues, and we have to continue and act against the terrorism in any way that we will find," Sharon said.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat condemned the bus attack and called on the international community to intervene.

"We call upon the [U.N.] Security Council to intervene directly in order to get an immediate cease-fire," Erakat said. "This attack should not deter efforts to resume the peace process."

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Sha'ath told CNN that Palestinians were continuing to try to halt attacks on Israel, despite the Israeli incursions.

"Our objective was to stop all of these operations and move back to the peace table," Sha'ath said. "Unfortunately, an agreement that was almost in the making was destroyed by the Israeli bombing of Gaza."

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Daniel Ayalon said there was no "magical solution" to the problem.

"You have to have a determined and effective and long-term campaign against the terror. And you have to do it in the absence of any Palestinian action against terror. They have shirked all their responsibilities against all the commitments they took." (Full story)

U.S. President Bush said the latest violence "distressed" him.

"For those who yearn for peace in the Middle East ... we must do everything we possibly can to stop the terror," Bush said. "There are a few killers who want to stop the peace process that we have started, and we must not let them."

The U.S. State Department lists Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as terrorist organizations.

Izzedine al Qassam, Hamas' military wing, has admitted responsibility for several terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and military. Hamas also claimed responsibility for last week's bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem that killed seven people, including five Americans.

The violence came as Israeli forces continued to demolish homes and buildings Israel says belong to Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank city of Nablus and other areas.

The soldiers began their operation Friday in Nablus, following Wednesday's attack at Hebrew University.




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