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Israel Steps Up Patrols in Wake of Attack

Mideast: Government mulls response and seeks to learn more about the female bomber.

January 29, 2002|From Times Wire Services

JERUSALEM — Israeli security forces flooded downtown Jerusalem on Monday, taking up prominent positions on sidewalks and rooftops a day after the latest bomb attack in the city, and the government weighed a response as it tried to determine the political affiliation of the female bomber.

A Palestinian man, meanwhile, was shot and killed on the outskirts of Tel Aviv after driving his car through a roadblock, running down and injuring an Israeli soldier and a policeman.

The motorist's motive was not clear: Palestinian police said he was a car thief, and Israeli police said they did not find any weapons on the man. However, Gideon Ezra, Israel's deputy minister of internal security, said anyone who "runs over a soldier and then a policeman . . . is a terrorist."

In Irtas, a Palestinian-controlled village near the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Israeli tanks and troops arrested three Palestinian militants before withdrawing today, sources from both sides said.

Five tanks and several dozen troops entered the village before dawn, encountering fire from local Palestinian gunmen, Palestinian security sources said.

Four Palestinians were wounded in the ensuing exchange of fire, three of them security officers and one a civilian, they said.

The Israeli army said it arrested a senior militant from the Islamic Jihad group and two other Palestinians suspected of "involvement in terror activities." The troops left three hours later.

In Jerusalem, soldiers were stationed every few yards along Jaffa Street, the busy thoroughfare where a bomber killed herself and an elderly Israeli man Sunday. Marksmen were stationed on rooftops, and police from the anti-terrorism unit cruised up and down the street on motorcycles.

About a dozen people were hurt in the bombing, and more than 100 were treated for shock.

American Mark Sokolow, 43, who survived the World Trade Center attack Sept. 11, was among those injured. His wife, Rina, and their daughters Jamie and Lauren were also hurt, though none of the injuries was life threatening.

The family, from Woodmere, N.Y., was visiting a third daughter, who is studying in Jerusalem.

"I heard a loud whoosh, like a bang, and I kind of saw things flying around a little bit, and then I realized I was able to get up and walk around," Sokolow told Israeli television from his hospital bed.

No group claimed responsibility for the bombing.

On Monday, Palestinian security forces evacuated several buildings in West Bank towns, fearing Israeli retaliation for Sunday's bombing.

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