Islamic Jihad claims suicide bombing that killed five Israelis

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The Independent Online

Yosef Kahalon, 27, was in a car with his sister just outside the market. "I heard a boom," he said. "I ran immediately to the site of the blast. I don't know what made me do it. I saw a man with blood pouring from his arm. I tore off my shirt and tied it round the wound to stop the bleeding.

"Next to him lay a teenage boy with shrapnel in his face, back and arms. Ambulance men evacuated him to hospital. There was another man I couldn't help. Blood was gushing from his stomach."

David Zarihan, a middle-aged man who shops in the market every Wednesday, was five metres from the stall. "I saw a well-dressed, clean-shaven, tall dark man," he said. "He looked suspicious. Suddenly he exploded. His body took most of the blast as he fell on me. Everything went black. All I could see was soot and dust."

Within three minutes, Mr Zarihan was on his way to Hadera's Hillel Jaffe hospital, where he was treated for superficial wounds. "I got off cheap," he said, still visibly shaken. "But I'll be back at the market next Wednesday."

Yigal Katz, another patient in the emergency room, added: "I saw such horrors. Bits of flesh were flying in all directions. There was a plump Arab woman shopping there. I think she must have been killed. Why do things like this have to happen?"

In the market on the corner of Rothschild and Herbert Samuel streets, the tin roofs and wooden beams of the falafel stall and its neighbours were fractured and buckled. Fruit and vegetables were scattered in the road. Shards of glass littered the pavement like hailstones. Old eucalyptus trees were stripped of their bark.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was in revenge for the Israeli killing of Louay Sa'adi, one of its West Bank commanders, in a gunfight in Tulkarem on Monday. Israeli intelligence sources said the bomber had set out from Qabatiya, near Nablus.

Witnesses reported seeing two men in a white car speeding off after dropping off a man, who may have been the bomber. Police blocked roads into the West Bank in the hope of catching them. Stall holders complained that there were no security guards present, even though the police confirmed that they had received a generalised warning of an attack in the Hadera region.

Shaul Mofaz, Israel's Defence Minister, vowed that Israel would continue hunting down militants from Islamic Jihad and other groups, which were planning attacks in defiance of their national leaders' call for a period of calm.

Sa'eb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, denounced the bombing. "We condemn this attack in Hadera, as we condemn all suicide attacks on Israeli civilians. We hope that we will not allow this attack to undermine the cessation of violence between the two sides. At the end of the day, violence breeds violence and we don't want to go back to this vicious cycle."

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, also condemned the bombing. Earlier, in a speech to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah, he warned militias that for every blow they made, Israel would hit back threefold.

Israel said the Palestinian Authority must shoulder responsibility. Mark Regev, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "The Palestinian Authority has to disarm and dismantle these groups."