Hopes for peace between Israelis and Palestinians have been set back by another deadly terrorist attack. On August 19th, a Palestinian suicide terrorist set off a bomb on a crowded bus in Jerusalem, killing at least twenty people, including five Americans. More than one-hundred were wounded.
Many of those killed or wounded were children. And some of the victims were returning home from the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, where they had gone to pray. Dore Gold, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said the bombing dealt a serious blow to attempts to make peace with Palestinians:
“There can’t be a peace process when our rescue workers have children trembling in their hands who came from prayers at the Western Wall at the holiest site in Jerusalem, and they’re on their way home. That is intolerable.”
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas condemned “this horrible act,” which he said “does not serve the interest of the Palestinian people at all.” Mr. Abbas expressed his sorrow to the families of the victims and ordered Palestinian security officials to investigate the bombing.
Responsibility for the suicide attack was claimed by two terrorist groups, Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas. These and other terrorist groups, says President George W. Bush, must be dismantled if peace is ever to come to the Middle East:
“All parties agree that a fundamental obstacle to peace is terrorism, which can never be justified by any cause. Prime Minister Abbas committed to a complete end to violence and terrorism. The Palestinian Authority must undertake sustained, targeted, and effective operations to confront those engaged in terror and to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.”
President Bush said the U.S. stands ready to help the Palestinian Authority “so they can go and do what they need to do, which is dismantle and destroy organizations. . .interested in killing innocent lives in order to prevent a peace process from going forward.”