Hunger for war amid rubble of Dizengoff Street

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The Independent Online
STEPHANIE NOLEN

Tel Aviv

At the site of Monday's bombing in Tel Aviv which killed 12 people, nobody wanted to talk about peace.

Several hundred angry protesters stood by the heap of left-over metal and broken glass, carrying signs saying "No Peace, We Want War", and jeering at any mention of the Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres.

In the crowd of onlookers, many of whom identified themselves as left- wing and once in favour of the peace process, were saying they would vote for the right-wing Likud party in elections slated for 29 May. Former Likud supporters wanted an alternative further to the right. "Nobody has a solution for a problem like this, but I will vote right-wing this time," said Haim Metz, standing in the rubble of his sandwich shop, a few metres from the site of the blast. "It may not be the best thing for Israelis, but it will be the best thing for our enemies. If we elect Likud, it will . . . show that we can be more extreme."

Mr Metz said he believed this attack would be the end of the peace process. "Tel Aviv is the heart of Israel, and right here, Dizengoff Street is the heart of the city. And they've done it here, twice, in the past year and a half." In October 1994, a Hamas suicide bomber killed 22, a few hundred metres from Mr Metz's store. "The people are angry," he said. "They don't want peace."

Mr Metz said he wasn't sure what the government could have done to stop the attack, but many of his fellow onlookers had theories. "They should kill the whole family of this bomber, and the next one will be afraid to do it," said Arel Triska, who owns a bridal boutique in the Dizengoff centre. Mr Triska, 35, said he used to support the peace process but after the recent Hamas attacks, he would vote "further right than Likud".

Katti West, who is originally from London and has lived in Israel for 12 years, said she believed the government should go into the West Bank and "kill a few thousand Palestinians like King Hussein of Jordan did. If they'd done it years ago, nothing would ever have happened". Ms West, 30, says she'll vote Likud.

Across the street in the wreckage of the pharmacy she manages, Sharona Ben Yehuda was a lone voice in favour of the continuation of the peace process with the PLO. "We're Israeli, we've lived through this so many times before," she said. "It's awful to say we're used to it but it's true." Ms Ben Yehuda, 46, worries about her children. Still, she said, she will vote for Mr Peres. Behind Ms Ben Yehuda was her son, Oded, 18. He spent several frightened hours after the blast on Monday, unable to get to the pharmacy through the police barricades, and not knowing if she was safe. "It was really scary, just so scary," he said, keeping his eyes trained on his mother as she picked her way through the rubble.

Yesterday he was staying right by her side.

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