Hamas Officially Claims Responsibility for Mike's Place Bombing

Hamas has officially claimed responsibility for the April 2003 suicide bomb attack on the Mike's Place bar in Tel Aviv. No group has ever admitted dispatching the bombers.

The bombing, which killed three people, was committed by a British citizen of Pakistani origin, Asif Mohammed Hanif. A second Briton, Omar Khan Sharif, was also meant to set off a bomb at the bar, but he had a problem with his explosives belt. His body washed up on a Tel Aviv beach two weeks after the deadly attack. The two crossed into Israel from Gaza with an Italian journalist.

A statement published Monday by the militant group states that Hanif and Sharif were recruited in the Gaza Strip and dispatched to avenge Israel's targeted assassination of senior Hamas member Ibrahim al-Makadme a few days earlier.

Hamas' admission means that the Mike's Place bombing was the first terrorist attack within Israel ever launched from the Gaza Strip since the start of the current intifada. The Hamas statement calls the attack "a pan-Islamic reaction" to the assassination of Makadme.

In the farewell video, Sharif and Hanif sat in front of a large green Islamic wall hanging in a Gaza apartment, both wearing military fatigues and carrying assault rifles.

Hanif delivered a traditional speech of Quranic verses, while Sharif talked about Palestinian suffering for which he blamed Israel and a complacent Muslim world. "What are we doing as Muslims to help them [the Palestinians]?" he said.

It became apparent from Sharif's speech that his Hamas recruiters had taken him around Gaza. He said that at one point, he visited a farm in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahia that had been destroyed during an Israeli incursion.

"You spend the whole day in fields and then some dude comes with his truck and runs over it. How would you feel? You feel like standing him up, shooting him ... because you have worked for a whole day like that," Sharif said.

Hamas also declared that it would find a way to get through the Gaza Strip security fence and prove to Israel that building a similar fence in the West Bank is futile and will not prevent such attacks.

Hamas said the pub bombing was a message to Israel that the group "has many options to fight against you as long as you are occupying our land and committing massacres against our people."