OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The armed wing of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and two other groups claimed responsibility for a bombing that rocked the southern town of Dimona on Monday, February 4, saying the attackers crossed into Israel from the West Bank.
Abu al-Walid, a senior official of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, told Agence France Presse (AFP) his group carried out the attack in cooperation with the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the previously unknown Unified Resistance Brigades.
Israeli police said two Palestinians and an Israeli woman were killed in the bombing attacks while many others were injured.
They said one of the bombers blew himself up inside the town’s shopping center while the other was shot dead by a security guard before detonating himself.
Abu al-Walid said that the two bombers were from the Gaza Strip.
A statement issued by Al-Aqsa Brigades said the two left for their mission from the West Bank political capital of Ramallah.
Dimona lies in heart of the Negev desert, sandwiched between the West Bank to the north, Jordan to the east, Gaza to the northwest and Egypt’s Sinai peninsula to the southwest.
With an estimated population of around 40,000, the town is just eight miles from the top-secret desert facility where Israel has developed the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal.
The attack is the first since a Palestinian blew himself up in a bakery in the Red Sea resort of Eilat in January of last year, killing three people in the first such attack in Israel in nine months.
The Palestinian Authority of Abbas was quick to condemn the bombing.
"The PA condemns the Israeli operation in Qabatiya during which two citizens were killed by the Israeli army, just as it condemns the attack that targeted civilians in a Dimona shopping center," it said in a statement.
However, almost all other Palestinian groups and figures described the attack as a retaliation against unabated Israeli aggressions.
"This heroic act is a natural response to the crimes of the occupation and to the blockade imposed on our people," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP in Gaza City.
Islamic Jihad leader Khalid Al-Butsh echoed the same sentiments.
"This is a legitimate operation that meant to deter Israeli occupation forces to stop its crimes," he said.
Al-Butsh added that the attack sends a clear message.
"Israeli attacks and blockade would not break our determination. We would not abandon our right to resist the occupation."
Palestinian MP and former information minister Mustafa Al-Barghuti held Israel and the international community responsible.
"The Israeli arrogance is to blame for what is taking place now," he told the Doha-based Al-Jazeera channel.
"Although the Palestinian resistance groups did not carry out any bombing attacks in 2007, Israel continued its state terrorism and killed 452 Palestinians including 91 only in January alone," recalled the lawmaker.
"This attack is also a response to the deafening international silence over what is taking place in Gaza Strip."
Israeli troops gunned down earlier Monday two Palestinians in the Qabatiya village near the West Bank town of Jenin.
Hours later, a third Palestinian was killed in an Israeli air strike on northern Gaza Strip, brining to more than 100 the number of Gazans killed since the US-sponsored Annapolis peace meeting on November 27.
Monday’s fatalities bring to 6,108 the number of people killed since the start of the second Palestinian Intifada in September 2000, the vast majority of them Palestinians, according to an AFP toll.
"In 2005, all Palestinian groups agreed to stop attacks against Israel provided that it halted its aggressions and assassinations," noted Gebrial Rajoub, a senior Fatah leader.
"But Israel did not respond positively. It does not offer Palestinians any other option."
(Islamonline.net and News Agencies, Feb 4)