JERUSALEM — Two Israeli teenagers were killed and 30 others were injured when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside a crowded pizza restaurant inside a West Bank settlement shortly after the Jewish Sabbath ended Saturday night.
Hours later, Israeli attack helicopters fired missiles into Palestinian Authority buildings in the West Bank city of Nablus in apparent retaliation for the attack. Palestinians reported that one child was injured in the predawn raid. The Israeli army said it hit an office of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, a police command post and other structures.
The first suicide bombing attack on a Jewish settlement came at the end of a week in which the cycle of killing and revenge that has shaped the conflict here for nearly 17 months intensified, with both sides escalating fighting that has already claimed well over 1,000 lives. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, wrapping up a fruitless visit aimed at goading the antagonists into a cease-fire, told reporters that the situation is going "from bad to worse."
All day Saturday, the violent incidents came so close together that they seemed almost to overlap. A leader of the militant Islamic organization Hamas was killed in the West Bank town of Jenin when a car he was passing exploded in what Palestinians said was an Israeli assassination. Palestinian hospital officials said seven bystanders were slightly injured. Hamas vowed to seek revenge for the killing.
The army issued a statement noting that the dead man, Nazih abu Sebaa, was "planning to carry out attacks" inside Israel soon and had helped plan several previous attacks. The slaying came as Israeli media reported that military intelligence had told the government that targeted killings increase--rather than thwart--attacks on Israelis. Israel has carried out dozens such killings during the insurgency, characterizing them as acts of self-defense.
Israeli Troops Raid Refugee Camp
In another action, Israeli troops swept into the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of Bureij, taking over a regional Palestinian security compound, then coming under what the army described as "massive fire" from gunmen, which triggered an hours-long battle. Three Palestinians, two of them teenagers, were killed and 11 injured during the clash. Israeli troops also bulldozed hundreds of citrus and other trees along a nearby road where Palestinians killed three soldiers Thursday by blowing up their tank.
Late Saturday, the army said a homemade Kassam-1 rocket developed by Hamas fell inside an army base in northern Gaza, damaging a building but causing no injuries. It was the second Kassam rocket to be fired by Palestinians on Saturday. The first, the longer-range Kassam-2, landed in a kibbutz inside Israel's pre-1967 borders. The rockets' range enables them to strike cities inside Israel, and the government has warned that it will respond forcefully to their use.
The Palestinians fired the Kassam-2 rocket, which landed in the Negev desert, for the first time last week. Afterward, the Israeli army launched its broadest incursion into the Gaza Strip since September 2000, killing five Palestinians in an 18-hour operation that was widely condemned here.
On Saturday, the suicide attack on the Karnei Shomron settlement, near the West Bank Palestinian town of Kalkilya, came as hundreds of Jewish teenagers from the community and surrounding settlements were congregated at a pizza parlor and coffee shop after the Sabbath ended.
There have been two shooting attacks inside Jewish settlements in the last 17 months.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in a statement to Al Jazeera, a pan-Arab satellite television station. The group said the bomber came from Kalkilya.
The group said the attack was in response to Israeli actions, and it also warned Arafat to stop arresting senior PFLP leaders. Arafat has made some arrests since the group claimed responsibility for the October slaying of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi.
A pizza deliveryman identified only as Amnon said on Israel Television that he had just returned from making a delivery when "I heard a loud boom and then saw nails flying all over, and everything crashed down to the floor."
The bomber had detonated a device packed with nails inside the restaurant. Nine people reportedly were injured by shrapnel.
Eli Kinach, a resident of the settlement, said his teenage daughter, Vered, was at the pizzeria when the attack occurred. When he heard the explosion, Kinach said, he rushed to the mall.
"When I arrived at the pizzeria, all I saw was total destruction," Kinach told Israel Television. "Everything was dark. Injured people were scattered in a radius of about [10 feet]. . . . I walked among all the injured until, finally, I found my daughter, lightly injured. I joined her in the ambulance."
'Again We See a Massacre'