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Islamic Jihad Claims Israel Bombing

November 7, 1998

SILAT AL HARITHIYA, West Bank (AP) _ The radical group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility Saturday for the suicide bombing of a crowded Jerusalem market and vowed more attacks to try to block the new peace accord.

``This heroic operation is not the first and not going to be the last,″ the group warned in a leaflet faxed to news organizations. ``We refuse any political agreement that would recognize the Zionist enemy.″

An Islamic Jihad official in Damascus, Syria confirmed that the group’s leader, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, claimed responsibility for Friday’s bombing in an interview with Paris-based Radio Monte Carlo.

Although the radical group Hamas initially claimed responsibility through anonymous phone calls to the police for Friday’s attack, both sides now agree Islamic Jihad carried it out.

The two groups share a general program of opposition to the peace process.

Palestinian security sources and the families of the dead bombers had already identified the men as Islamic Jihad activists. At least half a dozen other activists have been rounded up since the bombing, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders said Israel shouldn’t use Friday’s suicide bombing, which killed the two assailants and wounded 21 Israelis, as an excuse to stop the peace process.

One of Israel’s key demands is that the Palestinians do more to fight attacks by Islamic militants against Israeli targets. The Palestinians, however, said the bombers came from Israeli-controlled areas, so Israel bore at least partial security responsibility for the attack.

Hours after the bombing at Jerusalem’s open-air Mahane Yehuda market, Israel suspended Cabinet debate on ratification of the 2-week old Mideast peace accord reached at the Wye summit in Maryland. It did not announce a date for resumption.

The Israeli military said it could not confirm the bombers’ identities and hometowns, but they were disclosed by Palestinian security officials and also reported by Palestinian media.

One lived near the Anata refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, and the other lived in the West Bank village of Silat al Harithiya, outside the town of Jenin.

Both were killed when their car blew up at the market entrance. Israeli authorities reportedly found suitcases in the wreckage, suggesting the pair had intended to hand-carry bombs into the crowded market and detonate them there.

Their families said the two met in an Israeli jail and were related by marriage. Both families gathered to mourn Saturday, although they could not hold funerals because the bodies had not been handed over by Israeli authorities.

``I didn’t raise him to lose him like that,″ said Mohammed Zughayar, the 54-year-old father of Yusef Ali Mohammed Zughayar, 22. ``I’m proud, but I’m sad because I loved my son.″

The family of Suleiman Musa Dahayneh, 24, said he had been married for three months to Zughayar’s sister, Basma. They met when she was visiting her brother, who was in prison with Dahayneh, the family said.

Dahayneh had been angry and embittered since losing part of his leg after he was shot during a clash with Israeli troops when he was 13, his relatives said.

His wife showed visitors a letter she said he wrote to her before the attack, saying, ``Not the Wye agreement, not the Palestinian Authority, or the Israeli government, or even Clinton, will stop me from meeting my God. If they can, let them stop me.″

Palestinian Cabinet minister Nabil Shaath sharply criticized Israel on Saturday for suspending action on the accord in response to the bombing.

``This Israeli government is as guilty as those who want to destroy the peace process with acts of violence,″ Shaath said in Cairo, Egypt. ``The Israeli government seems happy to continue procrastinating.″

The Palestinian Cabinet condemned the attack Friday night, but also said it should not be used as a pretext for delaying implementation of the accord, signed Oct. 23.

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