Palestinian bomb attack hits Israeli market

At least four people were killed and dozens more wounded on Wednesday in a Palestinian bomb attack in a marketplace in northern Israel, the first inside the Jewish state since July.

Responsibility for the attack in the town of Hadera was claimed by the Islamic Jihad movement, which said it was in retaliation for the recent killing of its military commander for the West Bank.

Israeli private television said at least four people were killed when the blast ripped through an area around the town’s marketplace.

A spokesperson for the Magen David Adom ambulance service, Yeruham Mandola, said at least 30 people were wounded in the blast.

Local police commander David Sisso said that the attack was carried out in the town’s main market, adding that it was the work of a suicide bomber.

The attack came just two days after militants from Islamic Jihad vowed to avenge the death of their military leader in the West Bank after he had been shot dead by Israeli soldiers.

All the main Palestinian militant groups were meant to be observing a truce until the end of the year, but Jihad had said that the “cooldown can go to hell” after Louai Saadi, overall commander of its Al-Quds Brigades military wing in the West Bank, was shot dead on Sunday night.

A member of the movement, speaking in a phone call to news agency AFP, said Jihad had carried out the attack in Hadera as an “initial response” to Saadi’s death.

Jihad has already broken the truce on at least one occasion, including an attack near a shopping mall in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya in July, which was said to have been masterminded by Saadi.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, a consistent critic of the armed uprising, had earlier called on militant groups such as Jihad and the larger Hamas movement to “stop giving Israel excuses” to launch attacks on the Palestinian territories.

“We have to understand that we must not give Israel the excuse to hit back,” said Abbas in a speech to MPs.

Israel froze contacts with the Palestinian Authority earlier this month following a shooting attack near a settlement bloc in the West Bank in which three settlers were killed.

The army had earlier reported that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a mortar round on to a football pitch in southern Israel on Wednesday, causing no casualties or damage.

The round, which landed in the playing field in the Negev desert community of Netiv Haasara, came after the Israeli army warned it would operate a zero-tolerance policy towards future Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza.

“An apparent mortar shell landed at Netiv Haasara in the Negev desert. The shell landed in the soccer field in the town,” the spokesperson said.—Sapa-AFP