Bus bombing 'will not halt peace process'

Tel Aviv blast: Rabin faces wrath of Israelis as Hamas terrorists strike at peace accord, bringing carnage to rush-hour streets

The Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, yesterday suspended the lagging peace negotiations with the Palestinians and stopped all West Bank and Gaza Arabs from crossing into Israel following a Muslim suicide bombing that killed at least five Israelis and wounded 33 on a Tel Aviv bus during the morning rush hour. The bombing will keep tens of thousands of Palestinians from jobs on Israeli farms and building sites.

Mr Rabin spurned the taunts and curses that greeted him when he visited the wrecked bus near the 40-storey Ramat Gan diamond exchange. "They cannot," he said, "distinguish between the new reality, in which we have partners for peace, and those who are still its enemies. We shall not surrender to this mood, however genuine and painful it may be. We have to carry on. We will carry on."

The leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat, unequivocaly condemned the bombing, for which the Hamas Islamic movement claimed responsibility, as an act of terror, and sent condolences to the bereaved families.

Asked what impact it would have on the negotiations, Mr Arafat told reporters: "It will definitely have an effect. But I am sure that the wisdom of the Israeli Prime Minister and his Cabinet, with our co-operation, will be able to overcome these obstacles." The Palestinian Economics Minister Ahmed Qureia, a top negotiator, said talks would resume in a day or two.

None the less, in a leaflet issued later in the day, Mr Arafat's Fatah organisation suggested that the bombing might give the Israelis a pretext for dragging their feet and for postponing the promised release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

The right-wing Likud opposition immediately demanded that Mr Rabin break off the negotiations. The chairman of its parliamentary faction, Moshe Katzav, contended that the government had no mandate for the process. It should, he said, either call an early general election or submit any further agreement to a referendum.

Yesterday's operation was the first suicide bombing within Israel since 22 January, when 21 Israelis were killed at a bus stop near the northern resort town of Netanya. Last October another explosion killed 21 Israelis and a Dutch visitor in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Israeli opinion has shown itself extremely volatile in the face of such attacks - and to the proposed army evacuation of West Bank Arab towns, which arouses similar anxiety. A poll published last Friday in the tabloid Ma'ariv found Mr Rabin trailing six points behind the Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, in anticipation of this next stage of the peace process.

Yesterday's bomber is believed to have entered Israel from the West Bank, an area still under Israeli control. Israel TV broadcast a composite sketch of the suspected bomber based on interviews with witnesses. It described him as bearded, of medium height and athletic build, and between 25 and 30 years old. Fingerprints of the bomber had been taken and an identification was expected soon.

Police said the bomber probably boarded the bus near the Ayalon shopping centre about 2.5 kms (1.5 miles) north of the blast site. "The bus stopped at the light, and I suddenly heard an explosion," said Shlomi Uziel, 23. "People screamed, the windows blew out, and I jumped out the window. I couldn't see anything because my face was full of blood." A driving instructor who was the first to board the bus after the explosion, said it was "filled with destroyed bodies .The head of a girl was still spinning on the floor."

The back door hung from the top hinge, part of the ceiling caved in and the seat apparently occupied by the suicide attacker was obliterated. Body parts lay scattered across wooden seats and on the floor, amid sweet wrappers and a crushed Coca Cola can.

Mr Rabin acknowledged the efforts made by the Palestinian security forces to block attacks from the Gaza Strip. He pledged to intensify Israel's own war on terror, indicating that no legal constraints would be placed on the Shin Bet internal security service. This was interpreted to mean that interrogators will be more free to torture suspects.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
Life and Style
tech
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: EWI / IWI Installer

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of design...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst / Helpdesk Support Analyst

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is the UK's leading ...

The Jenrick Group: Finance Manager/Management Accountant

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: The Jenrick Group: Finance Manager/Manag...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'