Monday evening's attack was the
fifth in two days

The attacker was also killed and about 19 others injured in the fifth human-bomb operation in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel in two days.

Both Islamic Jihad and an off-shoot of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction claimed responsibility for the blast. The attacker was a 19-year-old female student from the occupied West Bank.

Condemnation

The Palestinian leadership condemned the latest attack, and earlier operations in Gaza, Hebron and Jerusalem.

Earlier on Monday a Palestinian on a bicycle blew himself up in the occupied Gaza Strip, lightly injuring three Israeli soldiers.

Over the weekend two Jewish settlers were killed in Hebron after a Palestinian set off an explosion, while six Israelis and a Palestinian died in a bus bombing in Jerusalem.

In a statement, the leadership said the blasts did not promote the cause of Palestinians.

But Arab League chief Amr Moussa refused to criticise the attacks, saying they were a "natural" outcome of occupation.

"So long as there is occupation, there has to be a resistance," said Moussa after talks with Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath.

Israel again linked the attacks to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

A high-ranking official said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government would refuse to see foreign officials who meet with Arafat in the future, reported AFP. 

Israeli officials claimed they had made “good-will gestures”  towards the Palestinians. But Israel has tightened a closure of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, making it impossible for the few remaining Palestinians who are still allowed to work in Israel to get there. 

UN operations impossible

The closure could make United Nations humanitarian operations impossible in the occupied Gaza Strip, said UN Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Roed-Larsen.

Roed-Larsen said he had met senior Israeli officials to discuss the clampdown and would hold further talks.

The world body envoy said that two-thirds of the 1.2 million Palestinians living in Gaza depended on the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for health, education and social services. 

Roed-Larsen said if the world body was unable to provide these services than Israel has a “prime responsibility” for Palestinians under its occupation.