Three Israelis were killed, and 59 were injured, several seriously, when a suicide bomber wearing an IDF uniform detonated himself in a covered marketplace in the seaside town of Netanya Sunday afternoon. About an hour before the explosion, security forces went on high alert in the Sharon region due to general warnings of an impending terrorist attack. The PFLP claimed credit for the attack.
Two of the victims of the attack were identified as Yosef Haviv, 70, and Arkadi Weizelman, 39, both residents of Netanya. The name of the third victim has not yet been released.
The bombing was the twelfth major terrorist attack in Netanya, and the first since the Passover massacre at the city's Park Hotel on March 27, in which 29 people were killed.
The attack occurred at about 4:20 p.m. Sunday afternoon when the terrorist, apparently dressed in an IDF uniform, emerged from a taxi and walked to the center of the market. He then detonated the explosive belt he was wearing. One of the victims was killed instantly; the other two died later from their injuries.
"All of a sudden there was a huge explosion and I was sent flying 10 meters," said Anatoly Zygeb, a Netanya resident who had arrived at the market to help his wife with her shopping. "I managed to stand up and ran towards the site of the blast, and I started to pull out the wounded and bring them to the market's entrance, where the ambulances were waiting."
Netanya mayor Miriam Feirberg told Israel Radio that while the market was not crowded at the time of the explosion, the fact that the city was only 15 kilometers from Palestinian territories made it a popular target for terrorists.
According to media reports, security forces went on alert throughout the Sharon region earlier in the afternoon due to a stream of warnings of possible terrorist attacks. Forces were beefed up along the Green Line border with the West Bank.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the attack. Israeli security sources suggested that PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat personally issued the orders for the attack, even though he is being held in a Jericho prison under American and British supervision.
The Palestinian Authority issued a condemnation of the bombing, saying that suicide bombings "endanger the Palestinian people, its just cause, its rights, and the future of its dream of a state."
A few hours after the bombing, IDF troops went into Palestinian villages near the city of Tulkarm, where the suicide bomber is thought to have originated. Security sources said the raids were planned before the Netanya blast, and no arrests were made.
Ellis Shuman Israelinsider