U.S. condemns Dimona attack, PM vows 'relentless' war on terror
U.S. urges PA redouble efforts against terrorism; Abbas condemns attack which Hamas calls 'justified'.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged Monday that Israel will not relent in its struggle against terrorism, after a suicide bombing in the southern town of Dimona earlier in the day. The United States issued a statement Monday condemning the attack and urging the Palestinian Authority to redouble its efforts to counter terrorism.
Addressing the Knesset, Olmert said that Israel is facing a constant war in the southern part of the country, referring to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Israel believes the suicide bombers infiltrated into Israel from Egypt after crossing from Gaza into Egypt.
Referring to the attack in Dimona, Olmert said, "It was a very harsh incident that only points again to the complexity that we deal with daily. I have said more than once in the past few weeks that a constant war is being conducted in the south of the country, a war of terror against us and our war against terror, this war will continue, terrorism will be hit. We will not relent."
"We extend condolences to the family of the innocent victim killed in this brutal attack and wish those wounded a rapid recovery," the White House statement said.
"We also condemn those terrorist groups, including Hamas, which condone these horrific actions. We call upon the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, who condemned this attack, to redouble their efforts to act against terrorism," the statement continued.
Hours after the deadly suicide bombing in the southern town of Dimona, the town's mayor said Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised him that a security fence would be constructed along the Egyptian border by 2010.
Dimona Mayor Meir Cohen said that the defense minister had passed the message to him while visiting the site of the attack.
Cohen added: "The euphoria of Negev town, who thought it wouldn't happen to us, has ended."
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai called on the government Monday to cease negotiations with the Palestinian Authority immediately, following the attack which left a woman dead and 11 more people wounded.
Yishai, who serves as Industry, Trade and Labor Minister, also called on the state to resume control of the Philadelphi Route.
"The government's previous decision to abandon the Philadelphi Route without supervising forces was a serious mistake. The southwest border of Israel is exposed and breached," he said.
The minister urged the government to allocate funds for the construction of a security fence at the Egyptian border, adding: "Instead of dealing with negotiations, we should be dealing with defense."
The suicide bombers entered Israel from Egypt, an infiltration made possible after Gaza militants blew up the Gaza-Egypt border wall two weeks ago, a Palestinian militant said hours after the blast.
President Shimon Peres telephoned Cohen on Monday afternoon and told him he wished to give strength to the city's residents, and expressed his grief for the victims of the attack.
In a statement he issued, Peres said: "The attack in Dimona was carried out by despicable terrorists who want to murder innocent women and children, at the same time as murdering the chances for peace."
A government official said Monday that the attack could have been the result of chaos on the Gaza-Egypt border, which was smashed down by Hamas militants late last month.
At least one person was killed and 11 others wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mall in the town. A second bomber was shot dead by police before he could detonate his explosives.
The Shin Bet security service warned Sunday that the breached border had enabled Palestinian terrorists to move freely and for advanced weaponry to enter Gaza.
"One of the concerns... was that hardcore terrorists would be filtering out of Gaza and coming back into Israel through the [Egyptian-Israeli] border," a government official said.
"What we are seeing today could well be the direct result of the anarchy we saw on the border with Gaza last week. But we're not sure yet," the official said.
"The terror organizations have showed again who they are and what they are," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel. "Their goal was andcontinues to be to kill Israeli citizens in their homes and their schools and in their shopping centers."
At Sunday's Cabinet meeting, the heads of security services warned that because of the anarchy on the Gaza-Egypt frontier, Palestinian militants might enter Israel through Gaza's Sinai desert to attack a civilian Israeli target, a government official said.
MK Steinitz: Build fence on Egypt border
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) urged the defense establishment to built a security wall at Israel's southern border with Egypt, echoing a call made by Barak at Sunday's cabinet meeting.
Barak said on Sunday: "The construction of a fence on the border with Egypt is an urgent need. We must immediately begin the prelimary stage [of construction], which would include two sections near Nitzana and in the Eilat area."
"These sections are vital, and must be constructed in order to deal with hostile terrorist activity and infiltrators," he added.
Also Monday, rightist group "The Campaign for Saving Israel" called on Shas to quit the government over the Dimona bombing.
"Shas ministers are responsible for the blood of the murdered in Dimona, as they breath life into Olmert's government," a group of right-wing rabbis wrote.
The group called on Shas ministers and MKs to immediately resign from the coalition, "following the murderous terror, and the continuation of negotiations with Palestinians, which will lead to the establishment of terror state in the heart of Judea and Samaria whose capital will be Jerusalem.
The rabbis added: "Every minute Shas sits and breaths life into Olmert's government, they endanger the nation sitting in Zion."
Abbas condemns attack; Hamas calls it justified
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Dimona bombing, but was also critical of an earlier military raid by IDF troops in the occupied West Bank, which killed two Palestinian militants.
Mahmoud Habbash, a minister in Abbas' government also condemned the attack, but blamed Israel for creating an atmosphere of violence with its ongoing attacks against militants in Gaza.
"We are against anything that would take us back to a cycle of violence," he said. "We hold Israel responsibile for this escalation, and for what happened."
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said he did not know whether his group was involved, but said the attack was justified.
He also rejected suggestions that the bombing would hurt Hamas' chances of reopening the border with Egypt.
"The suicide bombings were there before the closures and the resistance used every opportunity to make these glorious acts," he said. "They show the Palestinians can respond to the enemy and their crimes."
The militant group Islamic Jihad praised the attack as a blow against "Israeli occupation."
In the southern Gaza town of Rafah, gunmen fired their weapons into the air to celebrate the attack.
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