Monday, January 29, 2007

ANALYSIS: Is Eilat bombing attempt to end Palestinian in-fighting? By Mohammed Mar'i

Eilat Bombing Attack left 3 Killed Israelis
Is the attack an attempt to end the fighting in Gaza or an invitation for Israel to inter it?
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- The bombing attack killed three Israelis and critically wounded two, Monday, January 29, 2007, when Mohammad Faisal al- Siksik, 21, from Shaja'iyyah in Gaza blew himself up in a bakery in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat.

"Saraya Al Quds", the military wing of Islamic Jihad which claimed the attack with another two Palestinian groups, said in a statement that they had engineered the attack in "an attempt to focus Palestinians' attention away from killing each other".

Abu Hamza, the spokesman of Saraya Al Quds, said in a special interview said that" Saraya Al Quds is planning for an attack in the heart of the Zionist enemy since seven months, we have chosen Eilat since it is the most safe and quiet Israeli city". "Saraya Al Quds and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades planned how to enter Eilat through hard and complex procedures", he added.

In its statement, "Saraya Al Quds" said that" the attacker infiltrated Eilat from Jordan and that the attack is part of "Operation Ice Thawing" in response to ongoing Israel aggressions against Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank".

The Israeli Army Radio reported that another two persons were critically wounded in the attack. An Israeli police officer told the Radio that "This was a suicide bombing and the bomber is one of the dead. He apparently entered with a bag or explosives belt and blew himself up inside the shop". "Bread still in trays and shattered glass were scattered outside the shop as ambulance crews and police swarmed the residential street", the officer added to the Radio. Witnesses told the Radio that "body parts were strewn throughout the bakery". Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi told the Israel Radio that" the victims of the attack were likely to be local residents and not tourists" adding that" the city had not been prepared for an attack".

Early Monday morning, "Saraya Al Quds", the military wing of Islamic Jihad movement, the "Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades", the military wing of Fatah movement, and the unknown Palestinian group "Army of Believers" claimed responsibility for carrying the attack.

The Islamic Jihad praised the Eilat attack and announced that "this is a welcomed attack that emphasizes the Palestinian resistance's intent to continue the Jihad until all Palestinian lands are freed".

Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abdul Rahman in a press release condemned the attack, saying, "We are against any operation that targets civilians, Israelis or Palestinians."

Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman of Hamas, called the attack a "natural response" to Israeli Occupation Forces policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as its ongoing boycott of the Hamas-led government". He added that "So long as there is occupation, resistance is legitimate". He considered that attacks on Israel are preferable than the bloody confrontations between Palestinians saying "the right thing is for Fatah weapons to be directed toward the occupation not toward Hamas". He added that "This is a message to the world saying that the Palestinian resistance has the right to choose the time and the place for their actions."

But can the Eilat attack which is the first bombing attack since April 2006, when a Palestinian bomber blew himself up at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv, killing nine people, can it put the Palestinian "resistance" back on track to fight Israel only? Or is it an invitation for Israel to be a third party in the fighting between the rivals Fatah and Hamas taking into consideration the continued Israeli threat to enter Gaza?

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at