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Bomb kills 13 in Tel Aviv Israel breaks accord with Palestinians, to raid self-rule areas

TEL AVIV, ISREAL — TEL AVIV, Israel -- Tiny Batel Levy, 8, spoke for her country as she looked at the smear of blood on her small sweatshirt, the signature of the suicide bomber who killed 13 persons on a crowded city street yesterday.

"The blood on my shirt is everybody's blood," said the child with earnest brown eyes and a bandage on her hand from the bombing, as she sat on a hospital bed.

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All of Israel seemed to bleed with the victims of yesterday's fourth suicide bombing in nine days. More than 125 people were injured. Among the dead were three children and a baby, according to initial reports. The death toll in just over a week rose to 59.

After the bombing, Israel's Cabinet voted at an emergency meeting to give the military and intelligence agencies permission to arrest or attack Muslim extremists "everywhere" -- including the Gaza Strip and six West Bank cities now under Palestinian control.

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The Cabinet decision set up a special anti-terrorism unit authorized to take direct military action in the Palestinian areas, action that would violate the 1993 and 1994 Oslo peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Such action could halt the peace process so long promoted by Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and hand the Islamic extremists a bloody victory in their campaign tokill the peace accords.

"They asked me, 'Where will we act?' My answer is everywhere," Mr. Peres said after the Cabinet meeting. "We will reach every corner from which the root of this terror flowers."

The first public action came late last night when Israeli Police Minister Moshe Shahal ordered authorities to close Palestinian institutions -- apparently including those in Jerusalem -- that he said had links to Hamas.

Palestinian officials warned against any unilateral actions by Israel.

"We are very disturbed by this decision," Marwan Kanafani, a spokesman for Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian national au- thority's president, said last night. "We believe if it is executed it might raise tension."

Apparently worried by the consequences, a spokesman for the political wing of the Hamas group in Gaza publicly appealed for an end to the bombings carried out by Izz a-din Qassam, the "military" faction of the fundamentalist Islamic group.

Palestinian police in Ramallah, north of Jerusalem,announced they had arrested a 28-year-old Palestinian college student in connection with suicide bombings on the previous two Sundays. No further information about the man was immediately available.

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Yesterday's bombing once again demonstrated the ability of Palestinian terrorists to reach to the heart of Israel's main population centers and strike at Israel's vulnerabilities.

Police and soldiers flooded Jerusalem yesterday to prevent another attack after Sunday's bus bombing that killed 19. But the blow instead came in Tel Aviv on a pedestrian crosswalk only 100 yards away from the site of a bus bombing in October 1994 that killed 22.

In the middle of a crosswalk, a man with about 30 pounds of dynamite and nails strapped to his chest exploded the device, according to Gabi Last, the Tel Aviv police commander. The bomber acted at exactly 4 p.m. as the traffic light changed at a corner of Dizengoff Street to permit pedestrians to walk from one section of the city's most popular shopping mall to its annex across the street.

The blast swept through the plate glass store windows all along the block-long shopping center. Cars and store fronts were mangled by the force of the blast; people were cut down in amaelstrom of nails and glass shards.

"At first I thought it was some sort of electrical explosion in my store. Then I saw the terrible scene outside," said Avraham Rosenboum , 51, who owns an appliance store. "I tried to take care of a young girl, 14 or 15. Her throat was slit. We tried to stop the bleeding. She became blue. I hope she is alive, but I don't know."

Avner Brenner, 50, was on a motorbike near the explosion,and was thrown into a car. In a daze, he got back on his bike and drove to call his wife.

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"As soon as I hung up, I felt the sky was falling down on me," said Mr. Brenner, immobilized in a neck brace atthe Tel Ha Shomer Hospital.

Down the corridor, Efi Geva and his wife Yochi expressed relief, believing their daughter was mildly injured and safe. Yesterday was Purim, an Israeli holiday similar to Halloween. And Karen Geva, 15, had gone to the shopping center to see friends, said her parents.

Inside an emergency room, a nurse told a reporter the girl was on a respirator with a neck wound.

In another room, Batel Levy calmly described how an afternoon walk on a gentle day with her aunt had burst into a scene of death.

"It was a terrorist, I think," she explained. "He blew up with the bomb. We were at the bank, and the money machine exploded at us.

"I saw people dead, really dead. Then a boy's head flew off. I saw people on the ground, dead people. Parts ofbodies, as though they were cut," she said, sitting onfolded legs, relating the story as though it was an every day event she was telling to classmates.

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Her father, Gideon, a falafel vendor, watched his daughter in worried amazement.

"She's the one who comforted us," he said. "But for a child to see all that death. Who knows what affect it will have on her later?"

The Hamas fundamentalist group claimed responsibility for the blast. They had claimed the bus bombs in Jerusalem Sunday and Feb. 25, and a suicide bombing at a hitchhiking post in Ashqel on Feb. 25.

Police Commander Last said the suicide bomber may have been deterred from going into the crowded shopping center by policemen stationed at the doors.

"If he had gotten inside, I don't want to even imagine the casualties," he said.

Prime Minister Peres briefly visited the bomb site, which glittered in the spotlights like a snowfall of broken glass. He convened his Cabinet at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. The Cabinet statement afterwards said the special anti-terrorism unit had been "authorized to carry out a series of operational steps."

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As the Cabinet met, angry protesters clashed with police outside the building. They shouted "Death to Arabs," called Mr. Peres a "traitor," and chanted: "Peres howmany children have you killed today?"

The confrontation became violent, and at least three policemen were injured. A protester standing atop a van, waving a burning Palestinian flag, was thrown off the van by a policeman and injured in the head.

The protest mirrored the anger that has risen in Israel with each new bombing. The popularity of Mr. Peres, who is seeking election May 29, has plummeted, despite tough measures he announced Sunday in a vow to wage "all-out war" against Islamic terrorists.

Many people interviewed in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem yesterday said they support the plan endorsed by Mr. Peres to construct a "separation line" between Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank.

"I was for peace until now," said Efi Geva, waiting for his daughter in the hospital. "Now I'm changing my mind. The Arabs should stay over there, and we should stay on our side."

Hamas: profile of terror

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A suicide bomber blew himself up Monday hear to a line of poeple waiting at a cash machine outside a major shopping mall in central Tel Aviv.

Recent Hamas attacks.

1. March 3, 1996: Bus bomb in Jerusalem kills at least 18 people and wounds 10.

2. Feb 26, 1996: Fatal bombing in downtown Jerusalem, killing one and wounding 23.

3. Fed. 25, 1996: Fatal bombing in downtown Jerusalem. Bombers blow up bus in Ashkelon.

4. Aug. 21, 1995: A bus bombing in Jerusalem killed five people and wounded about 100.

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5. July 24, 1995: Six people were killed and 28 injured when a suicide bomber blew up a commuter bus in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan.

6. April 9, 1995: Two suicide bombers blew themselves up on Israeli buses near the Jewish settlement Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip, killing eight.

7. Oct. 19, 1994: A bomb explodes on a bus in the heart of Tel Aviv's shopping and cafe district; 22 people were killed,m 48 wounded.

8. April 13, 1994: A Palestinian rigged with explosives detonated on an Israeli commuter bus as it reached central town of Hadera; six people were killed, 25 wounded.

9. April 6, 1994: A parked car rigged with explosives blew up next to a bus in the town of Afula in northern Israel. Nine people were killed and 45 wounded.

Pub Date: 3/05/96


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