The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Yasir Arafat’s Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the first blast which ripped through a shopping centre in the northern Israeli town of Rosh Ha-ayin.

Khamis Ghazi Faisal Jerwan,17, detonated a bomb he was carrying with him in a supermarket, killing himself and an Israeli, an anonymous caller told French news agency AFP.

The group vowed to continue resistance operations until Israel ends attacks against Palestinian territory. It urged Israel to respect a ceasefire called for by Palestinian groups halting anti-occupation attacks.

Rosh Ha-ayin lies near the area where Israel is planning to extend the controversial apartheid wall separating the occupied West Bank. Palestinians fear the wall will demarcate the borders of a future Palestinian state. 

Within 40 minutes, a second Palestinian detonated a device he was carrying at a bus stop outside the settlement of Ariel, killing a settler and himself.

Under international law all Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are illegal, a stance Israel does not recognise.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responded to the attacks by saying Israel would continue its campaign against terror adding: "There can be no progress in the peace process without a complete halt to terror."

Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was in retaliation for Israel’s attacks last week in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, which left four Palestinians, including two Hamas members, killed.

Blame

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades wants
release of 6000 Palestinian detainees

Islamic Jihad leader Mohammad al-Hindi said Israel was responsible for the violence.

“They don’t respect the ceasefire and they continued their attacks against the Palestinian people since the first day of the ceasefire,” said al-Hindi.

Hamas spokesman, Ismael Haniyya, said his group still respected the truce, but echoed al-Hindi.

“The Israeli enemy is responsible for this situation because of their rejection of the ceasefire and their tough position,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, said there could be no progress in the US-backed “road map” aimed at ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict until such incidents came to an end.

The Palestinian Authority issued a “tough condemnation” of the blasts.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, speaking in Qatar as part of a regional tour he was considering cutting short, warned the truce was in danger if Israel continued its attacks against Palestinians.

Israel said it would not release 69 Palestinian detainees convicted of criminal offences and blocked all entrances to the West Bank cities of Qalqilya and Jenin. It also slapped a curfew on the village of Azun, which lies about 20 km west of Rosh Ha-ayin.