Tuesday 30 January 2007
By Matthew Kalman
Holidaymakers were warned to be vigilant after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed three people in the Israeli resort of Eilat yesterday.
It was the first such attack in the Red Sea port in the far south of the country which is popular with hundreds of Britons seeking winter sun.
The blast at a cafe-bakery in a residential area was the first suicide bomb in Israel since last April.
Police said it was likely that the bomber, identified as a 21-year-old Palestinian from Gaza, had intended to target a more crowded, tourist area.
He had probably blown himself up earlier than planned after his behaviour aroused the suspicions of passers-by.
Britons on holiday in the resort included Lorna Fitzsimons, Labour MP for Rochdale until 2005. Security at tourist hotels had been stepped up as police went on full alert, she said, adding: 'Nothing justifies terror on this scale,'
Benny Mazgini, 45, who was in an apartment across the street, said: 'I saw a man with a black coat and a bag. It is hot and it is strange to see someone with a coat.
'Seconds later, I heard a huge blast. It was awful - there was smoke, pieces of flesh all over the place.'
Rafi Caplin, of British-based Longwood Holidays, said the blast occurred in a part of town rarely visited by tourists.
'The general advice would be just to be vigilant, the same as when these types of incidents have happened elsewhere,' he said. Two Palestinian militant groups, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, claimed joint responsibility for the attack which they said had been planned for seven months.
They said the attack aimed to help end weeks of Palestinian infighting which has killed more than 60 people in the Gaza Strip. But four people were killed as fighting continued to rage there yesterday.
Palestinian news reports identified the bomber as Faisal al-Siksik.
At the family home, his brother Naeem said: 'We knew he was going to carry out a martyrdom operation. His mother and father prayed for him to succeed.'
Since April, Israeli security forces have caught about a dozen Palestinians planning to carry out suicide attacks.
Thursday 4 January 2007
Journalist uses heroes, villains, place -- a la Dashiell Hammett -- to bring Palestinian life alive in novel
Thursday, January 4, 2007
Bethlehem, West Bank -- A frail, balding man in late middle age shuffles through the shadows of Bethlehem, collecting evidence of murder and trying to protect his loved ones from violence and corruption as the Palestinian uprising rages all around and Israeli hit squads lurk in the background.