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5/22/03 - SUICIDE ATTACKS ON ISRAELIS - 2003-05-23

In a forty-eight-hour period beginning May 17th, suicide terrorists struck Israelis five times. The terrorist group Hamas claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, including a suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus that killed seven people and wounded about twenty. Two groups, Palestine Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a shopping mall in Afula that killed three people and wounded about seventy.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the terrorism is aimed at blocking cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis:

“There are armed groups that are competing for power that are trying to kill Israelis, that are trying to kill innocent people, and also disrupt the process of building a Palestinian state. And just as we’ve seen before, every time there is a serious attempt to move forward, there are these people who come out and try to disrupt it.”

It is past time for the Palestinian Authority to stop the terrorism. And others in the region will have to stop supporting terrorists. This applies especially to Syria, where several terrorist groups have offices, including Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad. This month in Damascus, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told President Bashar Assad it is critical for Syria to cease all support for terrorist groups.

Despite the new wave of terrorism against Israel, President George W. Bush says that efforts to encourage Palestinian-Israeli peace can move forward:

“But it is clear that the process is not going to be smooth so long as terrorists kill. And it’s a stark reminder that there are killers who can’t stand the thought of peace. And it’s sad, and it’s pathetic. And therefore, we must all work together. People in the Palestinian Authority who care for peace must work with us to fight off terror. People in Israel who care for peace will work with us to fight terror.”

The U.S. will continue to promote its vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, existing side by side in peace.