Five dead in Israeli mall suicide bombing

Five people were killed and dozens more wounded on Monday in a suicide bomb attack at a shopping mall close to the city of Tel Aviv, Israeli police and medical sources said.

The blast, responsibility for which was claimed by Islamic Jihad, went off at around 11.30am (9.30am GMT) at the entrance to the Hasharon shopping centre in the upmarket resort town of Netanya which has been the scene of several previous Palestinian suicide bombings.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service put the death toll at five and said 35 people had also been wounded in the attack. It was not immediately clear if the toll included the suicide bomber.

An Agence France Presse correspondent at the site of the blast said four badly burned bodies could be seen lying on the road outside the mall. Glass and rubble littered the area.

The blast was the first suicide attack since a member of Islamic Jihad blew himself up in the northern town of Hadera in late October, killing six Israelis.

Five people were also killed close to the same mall in Netanya on July 12 in an attack which was also carried out by Islamic Jihad.

A coastal town, Netanya lies about 40km north of Tel Aviv and 14km west of the 1967 Green Line which divides Israel from the West Bank.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to AFP’s offices in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
The caller, speaking on condition of anonymity said that the movement would issue a more detailed statement shortly.

The main Palestinian armed factions are meant to be observing a truce but it has been less than watertight.

The attack follows a spike in violence in the Gaza Strip from where Palestinian militants fired at least 10 makeshift rockets into Israel over the weekend but without causing any casualties.

The firing came after two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the territory from where Israel withdrew its settlers and troops over the summer.

Israeli military sources quoted in Monday’s Yediot Aharonot daily said they were expecting the level of attacks to increase in the coming weeks ahead of the Palestinian parliamentary elections on January 25.

The radical Islamist movement Hamas, which has been behind the majority of anti-Israeli attacks during the last five years, is contesting the polls for the first time. - AFP

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