A Palestinian suicide bomber slipped into a line at a falafel stand and blew himself up in a crowded outdoor market in the northern Israeli city of Hadera on Wednesday, killing five other people and wounding at least 25.
The militant Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was revenge for Israel's killing on Monday of a leader of its armed wing in the West Bank.
The explosion at Hadera's downtown market blew apart produce stalls, shattered shop windows and hurled debris and body parts into stores and buildings up to 100 yards away. The pavement was soaked with blood and littered with shards of glass. Bodies lay among scattered fruits and vegetables.
"I saw people torn apart and limbs scattered on all sides," Shaul Yitzhak, who was slightly injured, told reporters from a hospital bed.
It was the first suicide bombing in Israel since Israeli forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip last month, and it dealt a blow to hopes that the pullout would create an improved climate for renewed peace efforts.
The withdrawal was coordinated by Israelis and Palestinians, but eruptions of violence since then suggest that militants and Israeli forces are lapsing into a pattern of attack and retaliation that fueled five years of fighting, informs Herald Today.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the Palestinian Authority condemned the attack. He urged all sides to maintain the cease-fire agreement reached by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in February.
"We don't want to go back to this vicious cycle," Erakat said. "We've been there before. Israelis and Palestinians will pay the heaviest price if the cessation of violence is undermined."
Ra'anan Gissin, spokesman for Sharon, dismissed the Palestinian Authority's condemnation and accused its leaders, including President Mahmoud Abbas, of "sitting back and doing nothing."
Hadera was the site of numerous terror attacks targeting Israeli civilians in 2001 and 2002. The last attack in Hadera was in October 2002, when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near a bus packed with passengers, killing 14 people, reports the CNN.