Israel closes off Occupied Territories

30 December 2003
Israeli authorities closed off the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on 26 December after a suicide bomber killed four Israelis at a bus stop near Tel Aviv - the first suicide attack for nearly three months. The order to close off the Occupied Territories was given by Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz. 'Israel will take all measures that it deems essential to ensure its security, but there is an urgent need to relaunch negotiations at the highest level, for without it a dangerous political vacuum will emerge,' Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said. 'The present situation demonstrates clearly the danger from not having negotiations.'

Three men and a woman were killed in the suicide bombing, which happened at Geha, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. At least 12 others were injured in the blast. The attack has been claimed by militant group the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The suicide bombing came a day after a Palestinian man with explosives strapped to his body was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers as he approached the Ganei Tal settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. His death brought to 3,669 - 2,747 Palestinians and 856 Israelis - the number of people killed since the start of the intifada.

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