Over 30 Wounded in Suicide Bombing in Downtown Tel Aviv

Blast in cafe on corner of Allenby, Bialik Streets; Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades take responsibility.

More than 30 people were wounded, one critically and four seriously, when a suicide bomber blew himself up Saturday night at around 9:30 P.M. in the "My Coffee Shop" cafe at the corner of Allenby and Bialik Streets in downtown Tel Aviv.

The blast almost completely destroyed the cafe. Owner Eli Dana said that the cafe had not been full at the time of the explosion.

Fellow owner Roni Dana told Army Radio that there was no armed guard at the entrance to the cafe at the time of the blast.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, linked to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, took responsibility for the bombing. The organization identified the bomber as Muhaned Parhat, 21, from the West Bank city of Nablus.

The wounded were taken to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, Wolfson Medical Center in Holon and Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.

Police confirmed that the body found at the scene of the attack was that of the suicide bomber.

"I saw the terrorist enter the cafe with a suitcase and then everything exploded. There were maybe 40 people in the cafe," said Shai Amit, a customer.

Another eyewitness named Ro'i said that he was in a kiosk on the opposite side of the street when he "heard a boom. I saw flying glass and everyone began to run hysterically," he said.

A large number of right-wing protestors gathered close to the scene.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel would take all steps necessary, "using all means possible," to stop the Palestinian attacks.

The bombing "is a continuation of the campaign of murder" against Israelis everywhere, said a statement by Sharon's office.

"Once again innocent Israelis have become victims to the murderous deeds of the Palestinian Authority, which will stop at nothing for the purpose of inflicting as many casualties as it can," said David Baker, an official in Sharon's office.

"The Palestinians continue to resist any opportunity to achieve a cease-fire and bring an end to this murderous campaign directed against Israelis," he said.

"This is another attack in a series of attacks," said Deputy Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra. "We need to take steps to prevent terrorist attacks, such as stopping the supply of gas so that the terrorists will be unable to reach their intended destinations."