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Rabin Criticized Over Security in Wake of Attack : Israel: Members of Parliament assail prime minister after Jerusalem shooting spree leaves 2 dead, 13 wounded. Hamas claims responsibility.

October 11, 1994|MARY CURTIUS and NORMAN KEMPSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin faced a storm of criticism in Israel's Parliament on Monday for his handling of security affairs after the militant Islamic organization Hamas claimed responsibility for Sunday's deadly attack in the heart of Jerusalem's restaurant district.

As right-wing parliamentarians heaped scorn on Rabin, shopkeepers and restaurateurs swept up shattered glass, pried bullets from furniture and tried to make sense of the blaze of gunfire that erupted about midnight Sunday on Yoel Solomon Street and left two dead.

"It is all a part of the peace process," Dror Omer, owner of Luigi's Italian restaurant, said with a shrug. As Omer spoke, Palestinian workers carefully replaced his restaurant's front window, which disintegrated in the hail of bullets the gunmen sprayed as they moved through the pedestrian mall.

A waitress, Aviva Rosenblum, dug a bullet from a metal napkin holder that had drilled a neat hole through its stack of paper napkins. She shook her head in disbelief as the flattened projectile dropped into her palm. "We found bullets all over the restaurant," Omer said. "But only one person was wounded, a woman sitting outside. It is a miracle more people weren't hurt."

An off-duty Israeli soldier, Mayan Levi, 19, from Beit Zeit village outside Jerusalem, and Ziad Mugrabi, 35, a Palestinian from Aker, a West Bank village north of Jerusalem, were killed in the shooting spree. Thirteen others were wounded. Six of the wounded were reported still in serious condition Monday. Both attackers were killed.

U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who met with Rabin on Monday, called on Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat to condemn the attack.

"Certainly, I think it is up to him to give a strong condemnation of that incident because it is an interference with his efforts to achieve peace in this region," Christopher told reporters.

In a leaflet issued in Gaza, the Izzidin al-Qassam unit of Hamas said Sunday's attack was meant to commemorate the killing during a riot four years ago of 17 Palestinians in Jerusalem's Old City. The Palestinians were shot by security forces on the Temple Mount, a site holy to Muslims and Jews.

Hamas identified the gunmen shot dead Sunday night moments after they opened fire as Issam Mhana Ismail Jawhari, 24, and Hassan Abbas, 22.

Jawhari was an Egyptian who entered Israel on a one-month tourist passport in July, according to Hamas. Israel Radio reported that Jawhari had joined the Palestinian police force in Gaza, a report emphatically denied by Palestinian security officials Sunday.

A Hamas official said that Jawhari was the first non-Palestinian used by Hamas in an attack on Israelis.

"He wanted to die for the cause. He told us: 'I came here to fight to the death. I want to be a martyr and a fighter," said the official, speaking anonymously to Reuters news agency.

Abbas, of Gaza City, was released only recently from Israeli prison after serving two years for being a Hamas activist.

Israel's Knesset, or Parliament, held a tumultuous session Monday, with right-wing opposition parties bringing two motions of no-confidence in the government. The two motions failed, but Knesset members demanded an investigation of how the two gunmen, who reportedly drove to Jerusalem from Gaza while carrying weapons, made it through Israeli checkpoints.

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