JERUSALEM – A suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of teens near a shopping mall in the seaside city of Netanya on Tuesday, killing himself and two others in the second such attack since a truce was declared five months ago.
About 30 people were wounded, two seriously, police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility from a Palestinian militant group. The previous bombing was carried out by Islamic Jihad, which said in a statement after Tuesday’s attack that it remained committed to the cease-fire.
The blast went off shortly before 7 p.m. near the Sharon Mall in Netanya. Police said a preliminary investigation indicated the bomber blew himself up among a group of teenagers crossing a busy intersection.
Police said they believe there is a link between the attack near the mall and an apparent car bomb explosion some 30 minutes earlier in the Jewish settlement of Shavei Shomron in the
West Bank, near Netanya. Police said they have a suspect in the car bombing in custody, and that he belongs to Islamic Jihad.
Netanya is at
Israel’s narrowest point, nine miles from the West Bank. The city has been a frequent target of Palestinian bombers, but the number of attacks has dropped sharply in the past year, with completion of a section of Israel’s separation barrier in the area.
The mall has been a target for suicide bombers in the past. On May 18, 2001, a bomber blew himself up at the mall, killing five Israelis. The last suicide bombing in Netanya was on May 19, 2002, when three Israelis were killed on a street not far from the mall.
Tuesday’s attack in Netanya was the first suicide bombing in Israel since Feb. 25, when a bomber blew himself up in Tel Aviv, killing five Israelis.
The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, condemned the bombing. “We understand that those who carried out this attack want to sabotage the efforts being exerted to have a smooth and peaceful disengagement from Gaza and a revival of the peace process,” he said.