Text size

At least five people were killed Monday and more than 50 others were wounded, including four seriously, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at around 11:30 A.M. at the entrance to Hasharon shopping mall in Netanya.

The wounded were taken to Laniado Hospital in Netanya, Hillel Yaffeh Medical Center in Hadera and Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava.

The names of the five victims were released: Alexandra Garnitzki, 65, from Netanya; Daniel Golani, 45, from Nahariya; Eliyah Rozen, 38, from Bat Hefer; and Haim Amram, 26, from Netanya; and Keinan Tzomai, 19, of Petah Tikva.

Amram was to be buried in Netanya on Monday night.

Garnitzki will be buried Tuesday at the cemetery located adjacent to Kibbutz Baham. Her funeral procession will depart Netanya at 1 P.M.

Golani's funeral procession is set for Tuesday at 2:30 P.M. on Tuesday and he will be buried in the Shikun Vatikim cemetery in Netanya.

The details of Rozen's and Tzuma'i's funeral arrangements have not yet been released.

Islamic Jihad said that it had carried out the attack. An earlier claim in the name of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was swiftly denied by the Fatah-linked group.

The attack stirred sweeping condemnations in Israel and across the world.

Hezbollah's television station, Al-Manar, said the Islamic Jihad's military arm, the Jerusalem Brigades, made the claim in a telephone call to the station.

The group later identified the attacker as 21-year-old Lutfi Amin Abu Salem, from the village of Kafr Rai, located between the West Bank towns of Jenin and Tul Karm.

A video released by Islamic Jihad showed the bomber posing with a grenade launcher and an assault rifle.

The group has carried out all four previous suicide bombings carried out since a joint cease-fire declaration last February. It has said it reserves the right to retaliate for any perceived Israeli violations.

"A suicide bomber who tried to enter Hasharon mall in Netanya was spotted by passersby after he raised their suspicions," said Avi Sasson, deputy police chief in the area.

"Two policemen at the scene pulled out their guns and ordered him to halt and to take his hands out of his pockets. At that stage, he blew himself up," he said.

An eye-witness said that he spotted a man walking "like a robot" to the mall. He said that another woman who saw him shouted to the security guards at entrance to the shopping center: "Suicide bomber, suicide bomber!"

The guards stopped the man and pushed him up against the wall, and nearby police officers rushed to help. At that point, the bomber detonated the explosives he had in his bag. One of the security guards was killed and the the policemen were wounded.

"The fact that the security guard and policemen managed to identify the bomber meant that they prevented a major disaster," said Israel Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi.

"The city of Netanya is located on the seam line... and this is the third time that bombers have succeeded in carrying out an attack there," he said.

No warningDeputy Public Security Minister Yaakov Edri told Israel Radio that there had been no specific warnings ahead of the attack.

Karadi also told reporters that there had been no specific warnings about the bombing.

David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office, said that the attack was the result of PA refusal to dismantle the terrorist organizations in the territories.

In the wake of the bombing, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will convene a special meeting of the security cabinet Monday evening.

In a statement released by his office, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, and vowed to punish those responsible.

The attack was the first suicide bombing in Israel since October 26, when a bomber killed six people in Hadera, just north of Netanya.

The coastal city has been a frequent target of suicide bombings in the past five years of violence.

In July 2005 five people were killed when an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber blew himself up near the shopping mall. The bomber, identified as 18-year-old Ahmed Abu Khalil from the West Bank village of Atil, blew up on a pedestrian crossing near the entrance to the shopping center.

Emergency numbersLaniado Hospital, Netanya: 12 55 191 Hillel Yaffeh Medical Center, Hadera: 12 55 166 Meir Hospital, Kfar Sava: 12 55 199 New immigrant hotline: 12 55 081010