Latest Palestinian Terror Attack Has New Element — a Female Bomber

Israeli officials are once again going to have to revamp their profile of the type of person who carries out suicide bombings.

For years, security officials were particularly watchful for Palestinian men who were in their late teens or early 20s, were unmarried and unemployed.

That profile had to be readjusted after older men, some of whom had families and were gainfully employed, agreed to be recruited for suicide bombings.

Now, following a suicide bombing Sunday in Jerusalem, the profile has to be altered once again.

For the first time since the intifada erupted in September 2000, a terror bombing was carried out by a woman.

It was the second attack to take place on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem in less than a week.

Businesses in the area had scarcely repaired the damage from a terrorist attack on Jan. 22 when the bomber blew herself up in the already-battered shopping district Sunday, killing one person, wounding more than 100 others and wreaking vast damage.

The Hezbollah-run television station Al-Manar identified her as a student from An-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Israeli officials said Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat bore personal responsibility for the attack because of his failure to crack down on terrorism.

Aides to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said there would be an Israeli response, in accordance with a previous Cabinet decision authorizing immediate reprisals for all Palestinian attacks.

The Palestinian Authority issued a statement condemning Sunday’s attack. It also called on Israel to ease its restrictions on Arafat — who has been under virtual house arrest in Ramallah since December, when Israel said it would restrict his movements until he arrests those responsible for the October assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi.

In its statement, the Palestinian Authority also called on the United States to send its envoy, Anthony Zinni, back to the region.

Zinni’s return to the region has been delayed amid growing frustration in the White House over Arafat’s refusal to take responsibility or provide answers for an illegal arms shipment Israel seized earlier this month on the Red Sea.

Last Friday, President Bush said he is “disappointed” in Arafat, adding that the Palestinian leader “must make a full effort to rout out terror in the Middle East.”

On Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney put more pressure on Arafat, telling “Fox News Sunday” that the arms shipment points to disturbing links between Arafat and international terrorism.

Sunday’s suicide bombing was the third attack on an Israeli city in less than a week.

In the Jan. 22 attack, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on passers-by on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Street, killing two women and wounding more than 40 people.

And last Friday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded pedestrian shopping mall in Tel Aviv, killing himself and wounding 24 others.

Sunday’s bombing took place near the Sbarro pizzeria, where 15 people were killed in a suicide bombing last year.

The attack occurred shortly after noon Sunday near the intersection of Jaffa and King George streets. Storefronts were shattered, as glass shards and shrapnel blasted through the area.

An 81-year-old man died in the blast. Pinchas Takatli was a seventh-generation Israeli who conducted guided tours at the Western Wall tunnel.

Witnesses said ambulances arrived within minutes.

Avi, a medic, witnessed the explosion and immediately began treating the wounded.

“There was a lot of smoke, screams,” he told reporters. “I took a woman in my hands who had a large gash in her throat. I put some cloth on it, and someone else helped me put her in an ambulance.”

Among the injured was Mark Sokolov, a survivor of the Sept. 11 attack on New York’s World Trade Center.

Sokolov, along with his wife and a daughter, had traveled abroad to visit another daughter who is studying in Israel.

Sokolov recalled how he and his family were walking out of a shoe store when the explosion occurred.

He and one daughter were evacuated to one hospital, while his wife and the other daughter were taken to another.

“We walked out and all of a sudden I heard a blast. I felt a blast, like a boom. Almost it didn’t seem real,” he told Israel Radio. “A number of people came over to help me. They put me into the back of an ambulance. I remembered that I had to go see if my wife and daughters were okay. I got out of the ambulance to try to find them, but I couldn’t find them anywhere.”

Many of the wounded in Sunday’s attack had been injured in the previous week’s shooting spree.

One of the wounded, an employee at the Sbarro pizzeria, had gone to pick up a form from work relating to his injury last week, when the explosion occurred.

Israeli security forces have been on heightened alert for terror attacks.

Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy said shortly after the Sunday attack that police officers were believed to have been among the wounded.

After briefing reporters at the scene of the attack, Levy went to a nearby hospital complaining of chest pains.

He suffered a heart attack and was listed in stable condition after undergoing an angioplasty procedure.

Doctors later described his condition as good and said he would be able to return to work soon.

Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishky told reporters that many terrorist attacks have been thwarted by Israeli forces.

“But with all the effort, we cannot 100 percent succeed in stopping them all,” he said. “We must understand this reality. I call on residents of Israel and Jerusalem to understand this difficulty. We must be strong.”

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