2 dead, 7 wounded in Gaza explosions
Israel blames suicide bombers; PLO says Israel behind 1 blast
April 1, 1997
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT)
In this story:
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel said suicide bombers aiming to kill
Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers were behind twin
explosions in Gaza on Tuesday, but Palestinians said Israeli
troops caused one of the blasts.
In separate incidents, Israeli forces on Tuesday shot dead
two Arabs in the West Bank, where clashes over a Jewish
settlement under construction in Arab East Jerusalem flared
for a 13th straight day.
Netanyahu trip off
Also Tuesday, diplomatic sources told CNN that Israeli Prime
Benjamin Netanyahu has decided against visiting
Washington next Monday.
Netanyahu had been invited to speak at an annual conference
of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel
lobby, in Washington early next week.
The visit also would have given him an opportunity to meet
with President Clinton, who was discussing Mideast peace
options at the White House Tuesday with Jordan's King
Suicide or not?
Both Gaza explosions occurred around 7 a.m., about the time
Israeli children leave two Jewish settlements on buses for
school, Jewish settlers said.
Palestinians conceded that a man with 11 pounds (5 kg) of
explosives on his back blew himself up on the side of a road
about 1.5 miles (2 km) from the Jewish settlement of Netzarim
south of Gaza City.
But Palestinians insisted the other man -- who was wearing a
Palestinian police uniform -- was killed by a bomb or grenade
thrown by Israel troops at a passing taxi and donkey cart
outside the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom. Seven taxi
passengers were wounded in the explosion.
No Israelis were hurt in the incidents.
After the Netzarim blast, Jewish settlers hurled rocks at
passing Arab motorists, witnesses said.
Bombings come amid stalled peace talks
The bombings came against a backdrop of stalled Israeli-PLO
peace talks and Israeli charges that Palestinian President
Yasser Arafat has failed to curb militants in areas of the
West Bank and Gaza under his control.
Unless Palestinians "clamp down on terrorism, the peace process is in grave danger," warned
David Bar-Illan, an
adviser to Netanyahu.
(230K/10 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Arafat dismissed the accusations and said Israel's prolonged
security closure of the Palestinian areas created the climate
for the militants.
An Arafat aide said: "In Kfar Darom area, an Israeli military
jeep hurled a grenade or a bomb at (Palestinian) passersby
killing one and wounding others."
Israel, Hamas deny responsibility
"This is information that we have collected from passersby
and victims," said Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, secretary-general of
the Palestinian cabinet.
Arafat himself told reporters in Gaza that he believes
Israeli troops caused one of the explosions by throwing a
grenade at a taxi carrying Palestinians.
An Israeli army spokesman rejected the Palestinian account.
"It is absolutely incorrect. There were two suicide attacks
and two bombs," the spokesman said.
The Islamist militant group Hamas denied it was behind the
explosions, accusing Israel of ordering the blasts to sour
relations between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Jerusalem Bureau Chief Walter Rodgers, Correspondent Steve
Hurst and Reuters contributed to this report.
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