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Israeli police and firefighters prevented the detonation of an explosive-laden van in downtown Jerusalem. The van, driven by a Palestinian man, caught fire before the explosives could be set off, according to Jerusalem Police Chief Yair Yitzhaki. Passers-by rescued the driver and called security officials, who discovered the explosives. Israeli officials blamed Hamas for the attempted bombing. A Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip said he had no knowledge of the planned attack, and a spokesman for Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat called the incident a “phony act” intended to set back the peace process.

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