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Israeli forces move into Bethlehem

Terror attack kills 11 aboard bus in Jerusalem

Investigators, paramedics and volunteers surround the bombed bus in Jerusalem.
Investigators, paramedics and volunteers surround the bombed bus in Jerusalem.

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CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports on a suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed at least 11. (November 21)
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The threat of suicide attacks is driving many Israelis to get special training to take down would-be bombers. CNN's Matthew Chance reports. (November 20)
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BETHLEHEM, West Bank (CNN) -- Israeli tanks and armored vehicles moved into the center of Bethlehem early Friday, sealing off Manger Square and the entrance to the Church of the Nativity.

The move came hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber from Bethlehem killed 11 Israelis aboard a bus in Jerusalem.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that a military operation had begun in Bethlehem. Palestinian security sources reported hearing unmanned drone aircraft above the Dheisheh refugee adjacent to the Palestinian-controlled city.

Friday's military action marked the first Israeli move into Bethlehem since the IDF withdrew in August, after a two-month siege at the Church of the Nativity, built on the location which Christian tradition holds is the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

Elsewhere on Friday, witnesses said 40 Israeli tanks entered Gaza and troops searched for members of Hamas, the group that claimed responsibility for the Jerusalem terror attack.

Much of the activity was centered around the village of El Karara, just east of Khan Yunis, a town where Israeli forces in recent days have destroyed workshops they claim were being used by terrorists to make bombs and other terror components.

Witnesses said the troops blew up a house belonging to a Hamas member killed seven months ago after he carried out a gun attack on a Jewish settlement. They said they also searched the house of Hamas member Younis El Astal, who was not at home.

There was no immediate word on casualties. Witnesses said searches of other homes continued and tanks remained in the village. Tanks also were reported in the nearby village of Absan.

Shelling was reported coming from the Netzarim settlement early Friday as well as shelling in the direction of El Zahra City, a few kilometers from Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces had no immediate comment on those reports.

Children among suicide bomber's victims

Witnesses cry in anguish shortly after the terror attack on the bus.
Witnesses cry in anguish shortly after the terror attack on the bus.

Among the 11 people killed by the bomber aboard the crowded Israeli commuter bus Thursday morning in Jerusalem were four children; 50 others were wounded.

"The atmosphere is one of great sadness," said Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, who visited the bombing site. (More witness accounts)

Officials released the names of the 11 victims killed in the attack: Ella Sharshevsky, 44, and her son Michael Sharshevsky, 16; Kira Perlman, 67, and her grandson Ilan Perlman, 8; Marina Bazarski, 46; Hodaya Asaraf, 13; Varga Mirse, 25; Sima Novak, 56; Yafit Revivo, 13; Dikla Zino, 20; and Hadassah Helena Ben David, 32.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the terror attack in a broadcast on Hezbollah's al-Manar television.

A radical Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group, Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Its military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military.

'God, put in our heart the love'

Before Thursday, the most recent terror attack in Jerusalem had occurred on August 1 at Hebrew University. That attack killed at least seven people, including four Americans.

Simcha Cohen, who lives across the street from the scene of Thursday's bus bombing, said she was tired of the ongoing violence that has her living in fear.

"I shake every morning, every time that I go to the city, that I go to the market," she said. "We have to start a new life, it's enough -- 65 years I am living with the fight.

"I pray every day, every night. Every single day I say, 'God, put in our heart the love, start to love each other.'"

Jerusalem Mayor Olmert said Israeli authorities have prevented an average of 10 terror attacks -- bombings, shootings and suicide attacks -- every night.

Hours before the bus bombing, Israeli forces arrested two Palestinian members of the Tanzim movement in Bethlehem who intended to carry out a suicide bombing, according to the IDF.

Tanzim is the term Israeli officials use to describe militia members of Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Twelve other Palestinians also were arrested overnight near Hebron, according to the IDF, and two senior Hamas activists were arrested in the village of Tubas.

Olmert blamed Arafat for Thursday's terror attack: "The bombing's not going to stop as long as Yasser Arafat wants it to continue. He wants to cover the political process in Israel in blood.

"There is nothing that he wants more than to hopefully, from his point of view, put down Ariel Sharon," he said.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat condemned Thursday's attack but called Israeli accusations "a broken record."

"We cannot accept the official Israeli accusations against the Palestinian Authority and Arafat," Erakat said.

"We reiterate that the only way to stop this vicious cycle is through resumption of a meaningful peace process that would lead to the end of Israeli occupation."

Speaking Thursday in Prague, Czech Republic, where he was attending the NATO summit, President Bush had these words of condemnation:

"I am greatly disturbed by the news in the Middle East today. There's been yet another suicide attack. It is clear that those who want to use terror to stop any process for peace are still active," he said.

"In order to achieve peace, all countries in that region must be responsible for, take responsibility, do their best to fight off terror."

-- CNN Correspondents Jerrold Kessel and Matthew Chance contributed to this report.



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