Four bombs explode in Jerusalem

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The Independent Online

Four bombs exploded in Jerualem early Monday – two of them virtually at the same time during morning rush hour – and three people were lightly hurt, police and witnesses said.

Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy said he believed the bombs, which went off in three areas of the city, were planted by the same squad of Palestinian militants.

Israel Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, meanwhile, said a time and place for truce talks with the Palestinians have not yet been set. Speaking on Israel radio Monday, Peres did not rule out holding talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at a conference in Italy this week to which both have been invited.

Asked whether a cease–fire could be achieved in such a meeting, Peres said: "That is my hope ... I think he (Arafat) also needs it. The uprising is not yielding so much fruit. On the other hand, it is yielding more and more fatalities, unfortunately, and is causing great hardship, and where is it leading?"

Shortly after Peres was interviewed on the radio, two bombs exploded close to 8 a.m. (0500 GMT). One went off in a vehicle belonging to the Jerusalem municipality. The vehicle was parked in Gilo, a neighborhood built on land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed to Jerusalem.

Two people were lightly hurt.

In the second blast, an apparent car bomb, injured one woman in the north Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill, police said.

Before dawn Monday, two charges exploded, one in French Hill and one in the nearby Maalot Dafna neighborhood.

Gilo has come under repeated gunfire from Palestinian militants in Beit Jalla, a village just across the valley from Gilo.

Israel sent tanks and troops into Beit Jalla for two days last week to stop the shooting. The area has been quiet since Israel pulled out on Thursday.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said he would not tolerate any additional shooting on Gilo. It was not immediately clear how Israel would respond to the explosions Monday.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for either blast. However, militant Islamic groups have carried out bomb attacks against Israeli targets throughout the 11 months of Mideast violence.

More than 600 Palestinians and 160 Israelis have been killed in the violence.

In more violence early Monday, an Israeli was shot and seriously wounded in a shooting attack on his vehicle south of the West Bank city of Hebron, the army and rescue services said. The man, Ron Shechner, was on his way home to the Jewish settlement of Yatir when his car was riddled with bullets in the ambush.

A day earlier, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian gunmen during an hours–long gunbattle in Hebron.

Hebron has been the scene of repeated clashes throughout the Mideast fighting. About 500 Jewish settlers live in several small enclaves in the city, home to about 130,000 Palestinians.

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