Haifa mall attack averted

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli security forces prevented a serious car bombing at a major Haifa mall.

The explosives-laden car was discovered Saturday night in the parking lot of the Lev Hamifratz shopping center after one of the bombs partially exploded. Police immediately evacuated the mall and police sappers deactivated the remaining unexploded bombs, which could have caused severe damage and many deaths, according to reports.

The mall and surrounding area reopened Sunday. A train station is located at the mall, which is adjacent to Haifa’s central bus station.

Police believe Palestinian terrorists were behind the attack, according to reports. The white Subaru car was registered to a woman from eastern Jerusalem, though police believe it was stolen.

An Israeli-Arab group calling itself Galilee Freedom Fighters claimed responsibility for the attempted attack, according to the daily Ha’aretz. The group is apparently unknown to Israeli security forces. 

"As far as Israel is concerned, this was a terrorist attack in every sense," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the beginning of Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting. "The State of Israel views this terror attack seriously.

"We mustn’t kid ourselves. The attempted terror attacks in the State of Israel continued and continue, originating among other places in the West Bank, where Hamas seeks to establish its infrastructure and status. It seeks to do so by continuing on the road of terror and causing heavy damage to Israel’s citizens."

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