JERUSALEM (Sep. 18)
A new spate of terror attacks has Mideast watchers wondering whether Israel and the Palestinians are heading into another round of attack and counterattack.
Weeks of relative quiet had prompted hopes that the intifada might be winding down, but three Israelis were killed in separate terrorist attacks Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Israeli security officials were investigating the possibility that Jewish extremists were behind a bombing in a Palestinian schoolyard Tuesday in which five students were lightly hurt.
Classes were in session when the bomb went off in the courtyard of the Ziff school. Most of the injuries were from glass shards.
A second bomb was found in the schoolyard and defused by Israeli army experts.
Wednesday’s attacks took place as Foreign Minister Shimon Peres spoke out against terrorism during an address before the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
“Terror is condemned to lose,” he said. “It will be defeated because it carries no hope.”
He added that the real tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that “without terror, we could have already resolved” the problems faced by the two sides.
In one attack Wednesday, an Israeli policeman was killed and at least two people were injured when a Palestinian suicide bomber struck near a bus stop in northern Israel. The blast went off during afternoon rush hour on a highway outside the Israeli Arab city of Umm el-Fahm, which is several miles from Afula.
It was the first suicide attack since Aug. 4, when a bomber blew himself up on a bus traveling from Haifa to Safed, killing himself and nine Israelis.
The bomber walked up to a police car, exchanged several words with policemen and then detonated the explosives strapped to his body. Police arrived on the scene in a van after receiving an anonymous phone call about a suspicious-looking man standing near a bus stop.
One officer who was critically wounded later died of his wounds; another sustained moderate to serious injuries.
In another terror attack earlier Wednesday, one Israeli was killed and another wounded when Palestinian gunmen ambushed their car in the West Bank.
The gunmen opened fire near the settlement of Mevo Dotan, causing the car to overturn.
The victim, identified as Yosef Ajami, 36, of Jerusalem, was a road-works supervisor. A Romanian worker traveling with him was lightly wounded.
Israeli troops combing the area for the assailants came upon an abandoned vehicle. Inside were Israeli army uniforms, bulletproof vests and ammunition.
The Al-Aksa Brigade, the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for both the suicide bombing and shooting attack, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported.
Earlier Wednesday, the scorched body of an Israeli apparently slain by terrorists was found in eastern Jerusalem.
The body of David Buhbut, a 67-year-old resident of Ma’aleh Adumim, was found near the village of Azariya.
Family members identified the charred victim by his clothing and other personal belongings. According to the victim’s family, Buhbut had been missing since Tuesday, after he went to Azariya with a Palestinian worker to buy building materials for renovation work on his house.
The Israeli army imposed a curfew on Azariya and Abu Dis, which are both under overall Israeli security control, as an investigation into the killing began.
The attacks came as the head of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service, Avi Dichter, told the Cabinet that despite the Israeli army’s anti-terror operations, Palestinian terror groups remained motivated to carry out attacks.