Two Israeli teens, bomber die in suicide attack
Slain students waiting for bus at gas station
QALQILYA, Israel (CNN) -- Three people were killed Wednesday when an apparent suicide bomber exploded a nail bomb at a gas station in central Israel, the third blast on Israeli territory in two days.
Police assumed one of the dead in Wednesday's blast was the bomber; the other two were teen-age students waiting for a bus at the gas station.
Four other people were injured in the blast, which went off about 7:30 a.m. (0530 GMT) at the gas station known as the "Peace Rendezvous," near the village of Sdeh Hemet -- about a half-mile from the so-called "green line" border between Israel and the West Bank.
Schoolchildren board an armored bus at the station for a ride to a seminary in Kedumim, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
In a telephone call to Reuter news agency, the military wing of the militant Palestinian group Hamas claimed responsibility for the blast -- as well as the second of two blasts in Jerusalem on Tuesday -- and warned more were to come.
Five people were injured in the first blast on Tuesday, a car bomb set off near a busy shopping center as morning rush hour got under way. The second explosion killed one -- a suspected suicide bomber -- and injured at least 27 when it went off alongside a bus in the Jewish French Hill neighborhood.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has convened his inner Security Cabinet for a Wednesday afternoon meeting to discuss a response. Israel's new leader, who trounced incumbent Prime Minister Ehud Barak in elections in February, has appeared reluctant to respond to the violence while the Arab League summit was in session in Amman, Jordan -- but the summit ended not long after the Wednesday morning bombing.
Earlier Wednesday, Israeli authorities found a bomb in the coastal city of Netanya and carried out a controlled detonation. Later, security forces carried out a controlled explosion of a bomb in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv.
Those responsible 'will pay the full price'
Raanan Gissin, a senior Sharon aide, called for calm from Israelis already angered by Tuesday's bombings and the shooting death of a 10-month-old baby girl struck by sniper fire on Monday.
"It is very important now to have a lot of patience, self-restraint, and cool-headedness," Gissin told CNN. "In other words, no one should take the law in their hands."
"Those that have committed these atrocious crimes will receive full punishment," he said. "You can rest assured of that."
Gissin said that "regrettably" the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat -- who, he said, was "gleeing at the Jewish blood that is being spilled" were responsible for the violence.
Gissin stopped short of saying that Arafat himself would face retaliatory measures from the Israelis, saying only that "those around him and those who carry out acts of terror ... will pay the full price."
Palestinians reject Arafat responsibility
But Palestinian Cabinet Minister Hanan Ashrawi called Gissin's response "counterproductive," saying he was "using the language of threat and intimidation and trying to strike at the Palestinian Authority leadership."
"Israel has been using violence against unarmed Palestinian civilians," she said. "It has been escalating its policy of aggression against the whole population. ... I think if you push the Palestinians into a corner, if you drive them to desperation, there will be desperate acts."
Ashrawi rejected Israeli attempts to lay the blame for the violence on Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
"The people who claimed responsibility were the Hamas," she said. "They are outside the PLO."
Blast kills 9-year-old
While the Israelis and Palestinians have been at odds since Israel's birth more than 50 years ago, the last six months have seen a bitter escalation of violence in the wake of stumbling peace talks.
Not all of the violence has been the result of direct conflict. Hospital officials in Gaza said that a 9-year-old boy in Rafah was killed on Wednesday by an exploding tank shell. The boy and three friends, who were critically injured, had been playing with the shell when it went off.
Some Palestinian security officials, however, said the explosion had been the result of a booby trap.
The Israel Defense Forces said that no tank shells had been fired in the vicinity of Rafah, and that no booby traps were in place.
Since September 28, about 475 people have been killed in the violence, nearly 400 of them Palestinians.
Palestinian hopes of support from the United Nations were dashed on Tuesday when the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution to create an international observer force to protect civilians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Sharon: Lack of security becoming 'unbearable'
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office
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