In one of the worst terrorist attacks in Israel in recent months, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed nineteen people on October 4th at a restaurant in Haifa. Many others were wounded. The victims included both Jews and Arabs. Several of those killed were children. The attack took place a day before the beginning of Yom Kippur, the most holy day of the year for Jews.
The terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing. Along with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad is one of the most ruthless terrorist groups operating in the Middle East. It is committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad receives financial aid from Iran and logistical support and safe haven from Syria. On October 5th, Israeli air force planes bombed a terrorist training camp in Syria.
President George W. Bush was one of many world leaders who condemned the suicide bombing in Haifa. And in a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Mr. Bush made it clear “that Israel has got a right to defend herself”:
“Israel must not feel constrained, in terms of defending the homeland. However, I said that it’s very important that any action Israel take should avoid escalation and creating higher tensions.”
President Bush pointed out that more than a year ago, in a speech on June 24th, 2002, he explained U.S. policy on Israel and Palestinians “to the world”:
“We have not changed. Parties need to assume responsibility for their actions. In order for there to be a Palestinian state, the Palestinian Authority must fight terror and must use whatever means is necessary to fight terror.”
The terrorists “are trying to stop the establishment of a Palestinian state, a peaceful state,” said President Bush. “The Palestinian Authority must defeat the terrorists.”