3 Killed in Suicide Blast at Carmel Market in Tel Aviv

Victim identified as Shmuel Levy, 65, of Jaffa; bomber planned to carry out the attack in Jerusalem, but was deterred by heavy security.

A suicide bombing rocked the crowded Carmel Market in central Tel Aviv on Monday, killing at least three people and wounding dozens, fire and rescue officials said.

Witnesses said the ground shook when the blast went off at 11:15 A.M. near a dairy shop close to the intersection of Rambam and Hacarmel streets. The remains of the bomber were found nearby.

The three victims of the bombing were identified as Shmuel Levy, 65, of Jaffa; Tatiyana Akerman, 32, of Tel Aviv and Lea Levin, 64, of Givatayim.

Levy was a retired engineer who immigrated to Israel 15 years ago from Bulgaria. He is survived by a wife and a daughter.

Eight people are in still serious condition, two of them critical, Israel Radio reported.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack. The suicide bomber was identified as Amar al-Far, 16, from the Askar refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Security officials said the bomber arrived with the explosives Sunday night at Abu Dis in East Jerusalem and was planning to carry out the attack in the capital. However, they said he probably decided to travel to Tel Aviv instead because of strict security at crowded areas in Jerusalem.

The explosives the bomber carried were relatively small in size, a fire brigade commander said.

Samira Abdullah, 45, al-Far's mother, said the people who had sent her son to Tel Aviv were wrong to exploit someone too young to understand the implications of his act. "It's immoral to send someone so young," she said. "They should have sent an adult who understands the meaning of his deeds."

Relatives of the family began removing belongings from the house on Monday evening, fearing the IDF would demolish it.

Security forces upgraded their security level in the Dan region following the attack, Israel Radio reported. They arrested two suspects a short time after the bombing.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said that at least 32 people were wounded in the attack and were evacuated to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Wolfson Medical Center in Holon and Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.

Doctors at Ichilov were treating one person who sustained critical injuries, four in serious condition and one in moderate-to-serious condition. No children were among the wounded.

"I saw lots of people lying on the ground, lots of people wounded," shopper Michal Weizman told Army Radio. "There was a woman whose entire body was torn up, all her body was torn up."

Paramedics treated dazed and wounded shoppers on the ground, amid vegetables strewn across the pavement. Police searched waste bins for additional explosives.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the terror attack indicated that the Palestinian Authority has not changed and that Israel would continue fighting terror.

"The State of Israel has not stopped and will not stop its war on the murderous terrorism operating against us," Sharon said.

"Today's terror attack proved that there has been no change in the Palestinian Authority. Until they take substantial steps to eradicate terror and dismantle terrorist organizations, to carry out reforms and stop the incitement, Israel will continue its policy. Words, promises and half-hearted condemnations will not suffice. We demand full implementation of the Palestinian commitments."

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia also criticized the attack. "We don't believe that such an action serves our national cause, so we call on everyone to stop targeting civilians," he said.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat called his aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh from a hospital in France to condemn the terror attack and "the killing of civilians on both sides," Abu Rudeineh said.

Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat also denounced the attack, and said, "We urge the international community to exert every possible effort to revive the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, which is the only to break this vicious cycle of violence."

The area was almost immediately closed to traffic as police set up roadblocks around the market, which is already subject to stringent security measures.

Police also set up roadblocks near Hashiva and Ginot junctions south of Tel Aviv, in the wake of reports of a taxi that may have carried the bomber had escaped from the site of the attack.

Security forces had not received a specific warning of a terror attack planned for Tel Aviv, but they had recently received 44 warnings of planned attacks.

The bombing was the first suicide attack in Israel since September 22, when a Palestinian woman bomber blew herself up at a central intersection in Jerusalem, killing two border policemen.

The deadliest recent attack came on August 31, when Palestinians simultaneously blew up two buses in the southern city of Be'er Sheva, killing 16.

Emergency numbers: Ichilov Hospital: 12 55 133 Wolfson Medical Center: 12 55 135Sheba Medical Center: 12 55 131Immigration Ministry: 12 55 08 1010Tel Aviv municipality: 106 inside city, 03 552 1666 outside