TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — A photo caption in yesterday's editions erroneously said that Tel Aviv is the former capital of Israel.
The Sun regrets the error.
TEL AVIV, Israel -- A terrorist with a bomb turned a sunny morning rush hour into a scene of death yesterday, killing 20 aboard a crowded commuter bus and further shaking Israeli faith in the peace process.
The attack led immediately to demands from politicians and the public for retaliation by the Israeli government.
Police believe a suicide bomber boarded the No. 5 bus that makes its way through the downtown district and detonated the explosive in the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel in 16 years. At least 45 people were injured, four seriously.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin rushed back from England, where he was on an official visit. In a televised address to the nation, he said that he will demand an end to legal restraints on Israeli army and secret police actions against Palestinian radicals.
"We must find ways so that suicide attackers know that not only are they liable to get killed in their activity but also that their homes, their family members could also be hurt," he said.
Moderate Palestinians working for peace must not be held responsible for such attacks, Mr. Rabin said. He blamed the bombing on Hamas, a Muslim fundamentalist group opposed to the peace process.
Mr. Rabin appeared agitated in his televised address about 10 p.m. He spoke of the dangers of Hamas, and said that he will ask the parliament today for a loosening of what he described as judicial shackles on the operation of Israeli security services.
"I want to have the possibility of making administrative arrests without legal complications," he said. "If we want to fight the Hamas to the end, we must be enabled by the judiciary to have the tools."
But he also railed against Jewish settlers who advocate taking over the entire West Bank and who consider it "greater Israel." He said Israel cannot "swallow up" more than 1 million Palestinians there.
"Those who want to spread settlements over the territories, a blurring of areas, intermixing," would cause opposition from all Palestinians, he said. "Then we will face much more severe terrorism."
L And he said the PLO should not be blamed for Hamas attacks.
Hamas "is an enemy that existed against us before signing" of the peace agreement with the Palestinians, he said. "This is an enemy which has to be defined and must not be lumped together with the others -- those Palestinians who want peace with us."
The Palestine Liberation Organization, a rival to Hamas and Israel's partner in the peace process, offered quick words of consolation.
"An outrageous attack," PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat called it in a statement. He telephoned Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres with an offer to help catch those responsible, according to Mr. Peres.
But many Israelis made no distinction between the Palestinian groups in their demands for tough response. In protest marches and television interviews yesterday, their calls for action ranged from stopping the Israeli-PLO peace talks to transferring 2 million Arabs out of Gaza and the West Bank.
"There is no place for two peoples in this small country. The Arabs should go out," said Yoel Adler, 50, a demonstrator at a police barricade a half-block from the scene of the bombing.
"A fence must be built around Gaza," said Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the opposition Likud bloc.
The government responded to the calls by imposing an immediate closure on Gaza and the West Bank.
"There is no doubt there is a war, a very difficult war, against Hamas," Mr. Rabin said last night.
But both the Israelis and the Palestinians made it clear that the peace process would continue.
Anonymous telephone calls to news services claimed that Hamas was responsible for the blast. The Associated Press reported that mosques in the Gaza Strip broadcast statements by loudspeaker from Hamas, claiming responsibility and promising further attacks.
Yesterday's was the third major attack by Palestinians against Israelis in two weeks. Hamas gunmen opened fire on a Jerusalem street Oct. 9, killing two, and later kidnapped and killed an Israeli soldier.
The attacks have plunged the country into despair, only partly offset by the announcement of a peace treaty with Jordan and the award of a Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Rabin, Mr. Peres and Mr. Arafat for the peace agreement they signed last year.
Yesterday's attack also revived fears that the Palestinian opposition to peace may be successfully adopting new and more lethal tactics.
Yesterday, Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street looked like a scene from Beirut's civil war. The attack occurred one block from Dizengoff Square, the city's shopping and pedestrian hub.
Police believe one passenger boarded the bus with 20 to 30 pounds of explosives strapped to his body or concealed in a package. He sat on the right side, probably about the fourth row, police said.
The red-and-white bus had just discharged passengers at the square shortly before 9 a.m. It began moving northward on the broad thoroughfare. As it passed another No. 5 bus headed in the opposite direction, a blast enveloped both vehicles.
The explosion tore the skin from the first bus, leaving the front half a charred, metal skeleton. It ripped through the windows of ++ the adjacent bus, spraying glass on passengers.
"The bus went black. Fire was outside," said Marina, a 26-year-old Russian immigrant who would not give her last name. "I tried to get out a window, but it was like a dream. Your head works, but your body doesn't."
The windows of cafes along the tree-lined street shattered in the blast, and patrons sipping coffee in the morning sun were thrown about.
"It was deafening, terrifying," said Paz Nimrod, owner of the nearby Derby Bar. "I saw a woman and child blown to pieces. . . . We must gather up all the Hamas and explode them all in one bomb."
Shmulik Sadan, 28, had just gotten out of his seat to get off the bus at the next stop.
"I heard a big explosion. When I opened my eyes everything was black," he said. "I touched all over my body to see that everything was OK. Then I looked around to realize what I was saved from. I saw the bodies."
"The bus was completely smashed," said another eyewitness, who did not give his name. "Parts of the bus were hanging on torn electricity cables.
Abraham Riva, an Israeli who moved to Los Angeles "to get away from this kind of thing," was on a morning stroll during a two-week visit. He ran to the bus after the explosion and took pictures.
"People were screaming and yelling. I saw a woman whose face and neck was full of blood. I said, 'Why don't you go get help?' She said she had an appointment and had to meet someone," he recounted.
Ambulances rushed the wounded to nearby hospitals. But the task of separating torn bodies from the twisted metal continued for hours. People watched silently from rooftops as technicians in white coats picked gingerly through the debris.
"Until now, I was never afraid to go anyplace," said Dov Borochovik, 72. "In 1936, we had disturbances with the Arabs. The only way we managed to stop them was when the [Jewish] underground operated on 'an eye for an eye.' "
"This will not be the last attack," Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, the Israeli army's chief of staff, said yesterday. He said that Israel might stop Gazans from working in Israel, the main source of income for 800,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The attack yesterday left the largest Israeli death toll since an attack from the sea on a coastal highway north of Tel Aviv killed 37 and wounded 82 in March 1978.