Blast Hurts 27 in Haifa; Three Arab Youths Detained

Twenty-seven people were injured, several of them seriously, by an explosion in a crowded pedestrian mall in the Hadar HaCarmel quarter of Haifa Saturday night.

Among the seriously wounded were 8-year-old Jonathan Meir, who was injured in the legs, and his 18-month-old brother. Their parents sustained slight injuries

Two of the slightly injured were tourists from France, whose names were not immediately available.

The Rehov Nordau pedestrian mall was packed with post-Sabbath strollers out to catch an evening breeze after a sweltering day.

The explosive charge, which police said was an Israel Defense Force hand grenade, was apparently thrown between a crowded cafe and a toy shop next door.

The injured children were gazing through the shop window as their parents and friends sat in the cafe.

Eyewitnesses gave police descriptions of three Arab youths seen running away from the scene after apparently placing something on the ground.

Three youths answering the descriptions were among dozens of Arabs rounded up within minutes. Police Minister Haim Bar-Lev said they were residents of the West Bank town of Jenin.

There have been several instances of arson in the popular pedestrian mall since it opened just over a year ago. But police ascribed the incidents to “criminal elements” involved in commercial disputes.

The tension in the administered territories was felt in Israel proper in at least two other incidents over the weekend.

In Tel Aviv, an Arab watchman was severely beaten by Jewish youths as he guarded a building site in downtown Hamasger Street on Friday night.

Bassam Othman, from Nablus, told police he had been approached by the youths, who spoke to him before they attacked with fists and wooden clubs. They fled when he fell unconscious to the ground.

Police said the Jewish youths may have been members of one of several “Friday night gangs” who roam the city’s entertainment and bar area.

And three Gaza Strip youths were detained in Tel Aviv Saturday afternoon when swimmers reported that Arabs had “tried to drown girls” by pushing them off of air mattresses as they bobbed up and down on the waves.

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