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Archive for Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Rockets retaliate for bus bombing

November 21, 2000

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— Palestinians launched a bomb attack against a school bus Monday, killing two Israelis and wounding nine, and Israel retaliated with its most punishing airstrike in nearly two months of fighting. Helicopters and boats barraged the offices of Palestinian security forces in Gaza City with dozens of rockets.

The bus bombing in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli response dashed hopes that Israelis and Palestinians might be moving toward a truce and a resumption of peace talks. The fighting has left some 240 people dead since Sept. 28, mostly Palestinians.

"We will continue to work with all our might to stop the violence, and make the Palestinian Authority understand that it will not achieve anything with violence," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Monday night.

He blamed the bus bombing in which five of the nine wounded were children on the Tanzim militia, which is connected to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's political movement, Fatah.

Palestinian officials said 62 people were injured in the Israeli bombardments, about half of them civilians.

Israeli helicopters unleashed an hourlong rocket barrage at nightfall, targeting Fatah and Palestinian security offices, including police headquarters and a building not far from the office where Arafat was working at the time.

The airstrike cut electricity, plunging Gaza City into darkness, and rockets hit several nearby refugee camps, witnesses said. At least 22 of the wounded were from Shati camp, doctors said. Israel said missile boats off the Gaza coast in the Mediterranean joined the attack.

Many of the offices targeted were under the control of Mohammed Dahlan, head of the Preventive Security Service, who Israeli television said was suspected in the bus attack.

After the Israeli assault, Dahlan was defiant. He told Associated Press Television News the Palestinians will confront Israel until "Palestinian national rights are achieved."

Arafat's aides denounced the bus attack. "We had nothing to do with this incident. We reject any kind of violence," said Arafat adviser Nabil Aburdeneh.

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