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Seven held over Tel Aviv bombing
by BBC (reposted)
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:14 AM
Israeli troops and Palestinian police have arrested seven people in connection with Friday's suicide bombing outside a Tel Aviv nightclub.

Israeli soldiers detained five people near the West Bank town of Tulkarem, including two brothers of the man identified as the suicide bomber.
Palestinian police separately arrested two people over the blast, which killed four people and injured about 30.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has pledged to punish the perpetrators.

It was the first attack since Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed earlier this month to end violence.

"The Palestinian Authority will not stand silent in the face of this act of sabotage," Mr Abbas said in a statement after meeting security chiefs.

"We will follow and track down those responsible and they will be punished accordingly."

Mr Abbas blamed a "third party" but went no further.

Other Palestinian officials have blamed Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant organisation.

However, Hezbollah issued a statement in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, denying the allegations as "completely devoid of truth".

All Palestinian militant groups have denied responsibility.

The BBC's James Reynolds in Jerusalem says it is in everyone's interests to show that this was an attack by a group from outside the Palestinian territories.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was also expected to meet security chiefs to discuss a response.

A top Sharon adviser, Raanan Gissin, told the BBC that the Palestinian Authority must take "the necessary, concrete steps to dismantle the terrorist organisation, collect the illegal weapons, make the necessary arrests".

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for the Palestinians to take "immediate, credible steps" to find those behind the attacks.

Militant attacks had fallen away in the days after Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached a truce at a summit in Egypt on 8 February.


Israeli soldiers raided the village of Deir al Ghusun, just north of Tulkarem, on Saturday morning and imposed a curfew.

Two brothers of the bomber, identified by the Israelis as 21-year-old Abdullah Badran, were arrested, as well as the local imam.

Palestinian sources say the bomber was a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, but also recruited and funded by Lebanon-based Hezbollah militants - though a Hezbollah spokesman in Beirut has denied this.

The two men held by Palestinian security forces were also arrested in the Tulkarem area. One source described them as Islamic Jihad militants.

The bomber set off a device as people queued to get into the club, reportedly after security guards spotted him and kept him out.

The attack happened at the entrance to the Stage club on Herbert Samuel Street, close to the promenade, Tel Aviv police chief David Tsour said.

Israeli media report the blast occurred at 2315 (2115 GMT).

Clubs in the area have been attacked by Palestinian militants in the past, notably the Dolphinarium disco, where a bomber killed 21 in 2001.
by more
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:14 AM
RAMALLAH (Reuters) - Scrambling to save a battered truce, Palestinian officials arrested three West Bank suspects on Saturday after a suicide bombing that killed four Israelis, but pointed to Lebanon's Hizbollah as mastermind of the attack.

Friday's bombing at a Tel Aviv nightclub dealt a heavy blow to peace hopes that had brightened since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agreed to a ceasefire at a Feb. 8 summit.

Israel and the United States said the bombing, the first suicide attack in the Jewish state in nearly four months, showed Abbas had to act more forcefully to salvage peace efforts.

But Israeli officials said the Jewish state would show restraint for now.

"We will not tolerate this act," Abbas, elected last month as Yasser Arafat's successor, told reporters as he met security chiefs. "We will not allow anyone to sabotage the goals and ambitions of our people ... We will bring them to justice."

Top officials of the three main Palestinian militant groups denied involvement, and Abbas blamed an unnamed "third party."

A senior Palestinian security official said inquiries indicated the hand of the Hizbollah guerrilla group, and a leader of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said Hizbollah had even asked it to issue a false claim of responsibility but it had refused.

"All the information we have until now from interrogations shows that Hizbollah is involved," the official said.

In Beirut, Hizbollah denied any role and called the accusations a provocation by "the Zionist entity" (Israel).

Both Israel and the Palestinians have recently accused Hizbollah, backed by Syria and Iran, of trying to sabotage peace efforts, though political commentators say the Palestinians could benefit from shifting the blame away from home.

A cell of the Islamic Jihad group in the West Bank initially claimed the attack, but the faction's leadership in Gaza denied any knowledge and said it would continue to maintain calm.

Read More
by pa
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:15 AM
Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah today denied it was behind the suicide bombing that killed four people in a Tel Aviv night club.

Palestinian security officials have arrested two suspects in connection with the Friday night bombing and have pointed to Hezbollah as the apparent mastermind of the attack.

The group has been accused by Israeli and Palestinian officials of trying to disrupt an informal Mideast truce.

Hezbollah said in a statement that it “categorically denies accusations that alluded to a supposed role it played in the Tel Aviv operation, considering them completely devoid of truth.”

The accusations are part of the “incitement which the Zionist enemy (Israel) practices against Hezbollah,” it said.

Earlier today, Sheik Naim Kassem, Hezbollah’s deputy secretary general, said the group had nothing to do with the attack and repeated the group’s long-time assertion that it does not carry out attacks in the Palestinian territories or Israel.

“Hezbollah has no personnel or organisational presence in Palestine. It has no relationship with operations that occur inside Palestine,” Kassem told the Voice of Lebanon radio station.

Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran and maintains positions near the Lebanese border with Israel, fought Israel’s 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon, which ended in 2000.

Since then, Hezbollah has occasionally attacked Israeli soldiers in the Chebaa Farms, a disputed area near where the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel meet.

The main Palestinian militant groups – Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa – have denied involvement in the Tel Aviv bombing, and said they remained committed to an informal truce reached earlier this month.
by Al Jazeera (repost)
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:22 AM
Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the Tel Aviv night club bombing that killed four people.

The alleged bomber, Abd Allah Said Badran carried out the bombing operation to avenge the deaths of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces, he said in a videotape message.

He also slammed the Palestinian Authority and described it as a unilaterally-ruling authority that merely follows US orders.

However, Islamic Jihad's leadership in Gaza denied any involvement in the bomb attack and said they were committed to the truce currently in force with the Israelis.

Earlier in the day Lebanon's Hizb Allah denied involvement in the Saturday morning bombing that also wounded 53 people.

"Hizb Allah categorically denies the accusations of a supposed role by our movement in the Tel Aviv operation and considers them totally without basis," a statement from the group said.

"These accusations are part of a campaign of incitement against Hizb Allah led by the Hebrew state."

Israeli authorities continue to investigate the incident.


Israel has long accused Hizb Allah of funding attacks by groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman told Aljazeera that Hizb Allah wants to prevent the peace process from continuing.

"Hizb Allah wants to shake stability in the area and foil the mutual efforts to go forward in the peace process and the Palestinian Authority's efforts to ease the situation," he said.

When asked about possible involvement of Israeli extremists in the operation, the spokesman said: "We have mutual interests in going forward in the peace process. We have responsibilities. Accusing an Israeli extremist is not useful."

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas did not name any particular group but said a "third party" was behind the attack.

Palestinian security sources had said that the bomber, Abd Allah Badran, belonged to Islamic Jihad, but the group itself has not claimed responsibility.

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