Israel is poised to launch reprisals after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed five people and wounded dozens more outside a shopping centre. The blast brought terror to the Israeli coastal town of Netanya, a frequent target of attacks over the past five years. The man was challenged by police as he tried to enter the mall and ordered to remove his hand from a bag he was carrying, which was packed with explosives.An officer said the bomber then smiled before blowing himself up. The second suicide attack in Israel since its withdrawal from Gaza, today’s explosion deals another blow to the shaky ceasefire declared by Palestinian and Israeli leaders. A new surge of violence would dim any chance for progress on peacemaking. As the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and then Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, the European Union added its voice to condemnation of the bombing.
Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon consulted security officials on a military response. It is reported that Israel’s defence minister has ordered the army to carry out strikes targeting top Islamic Jihad militants, as well as raids, and tighten restrictions on Palestinian movement in the occupied West Bank. Shaul Mofaz has also said he is seeking approval to resume a policy of demolishing the homes of suicide bombers – a practice Israel had suspended in February, after the start of the truce.