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Hamas Defends Terrorist Bombing

The April 17th terrorist bombing of a sandwich shop in Tel Aviv was the first bombing in Israel since the terrorist organization Hamas took power in the Palestinian Authority three weeks ago.

While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, Hamas officials called it "a legitimate act of self-defense". Two other organizations, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack in which nine people were killed and dozens wounded.

President George W. Bush's spokesman Scott McClellan called the bombing "a despicable act of terrorism for which no excuse or justification is possible":

"Defense or sponsorship of terrorist acts by officials of the Palestinian cabinet will have the gravest effects on relations between the Palestinian Authority and all states seeking peace in the Middle East. A Palestinian government that encourages or tolerates terrorism against men, women and children not only increases the level of violence against Israelis, but can, as well, only do great harm to the interests of the Palestinian people and ensure its own further isolation."

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that Hamas’ response to the attack shows the nature of the organization:

"Given the opportunity, the first opportunity to denounce an act of terror. . . .Hamas has decided to condone it. . . .They would rather encourage sixteen-year-olds to go out, strap explosives to them and go out and try to kill other sixteen-year-olds, other innocent civilians. That's the kind of government that you're dealing with. . . .The net effect of that is to encourage more violence."

The United States, said Mr. McCormack, again calls on Hamas to respect the worldwide demand for Middle East peace, to renounce violence, respect Israel’s right to exist and accept all existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In the absence of such measures, Mr. McCormack said, the United States will refuse to have any contact with the Hamas-led government.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.