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Middle East
Groups claim Israel suicide blast
Three dead in attack on bakery in southern Israeli town of Eilat.
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2007 19:58 GMT
The bomber's mother said she was proud of the attack. [AFP]
Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades  have claimed joint responsibility for the first-ever suicide attack in the Israeli town of Eilat in which three people were killed.
 
A 21-year-old from Gaza was named as carrying out Monday's bombing in the first suicide attack by Palestinian fighters in Israel in nine months.
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, said Israel would continue to target Palestinian fighters but stopped short of promising retaliation.
 
He ordered an investigation into how the attack was carried out.
In a joint statement, the two Palestinian groups responsible for the attack described it as "a natural response to savage aggression by the occupation [by Israel]".
 
The Israeli defence minister, Amir Peretz, said the attackers were trying to disrupt a fragile two-month-old ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza.
 
Proud family
 
A spokesman for Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades identified the bomber as Mohammed Faisal Siksik from Gaza City, a member of a faction of the group called the Army of Believers.
 
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At the family home in the town of Beit Lahiya, his mother Rueida said:  "He left home on Saturday morning and told me he was going be a martyr.
 
"I hugged him, cried and prayed that he would succeed in his martyrdom operation. God heard my call."
 
Mohammed's brother, Naim, agreed. "We can hold our heads high after this brave martyr operation," he said.
 
Islamic Jihad said the bomber had travelled through Jordan to reach Israel to carry out the attack.
 
The Jordan authorities denied this and Israel said the attacker had crossed via the Egyptian border.
 
Gaza reaction
 
Rueida, 42, said she was proud that her son "had inflicted harm against the enemy and not died in shameful" inter-Palestinian clashes.
 
The bomber who struck the Eilat cafe-bakery
may have come in through Jordan [Reuters]
Gaza and the West Bank have been rocked by the worst Palestinian infighting since the election of Hamas a year ago and the reactions of the Fatah and Hamas to the bombing underlined the divide between the two.
 
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, called Monday's attack a "natural response" to Israeli military policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
 
"So long as there is occupation, resistance is legitimate," he said.
 
The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades,are linked to Fatah. 
 
A Fatah spokesman, Ahmad Abdul Rahman, condemned the violence, saying, "We are against any operation that targets civilians, Israelis or Palestinians."
 
Backpack bomb
 
The blast took place the Lechamim bakery in a residential neighbourhood of the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, far from its beach hotels, at around 09:40 (07:40 GMT).
 
The bakery owner and two employees were killed in addition to the bomber, who entered the shop carrying the explosives in a backpack, police said.
 
Rescuers dressed in white suits spent hours collecting human remains after the blast, which destroyed the inside of the bakery.
 
The attack is the first suicide bombing in Israel since last April when a suicide bomber killed 10 people in Tel Aviv.
 
Islamic Jihad is not one of the Palestinian groups subject to a Gaza ceasefire agreed upon in November between Israel and some Palestinian groups.
 
The group has demanded that any truce also covers the occupied West Bank.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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