A bomb explosion in the centre of Tel Aviv threatened to overshadow restarted talks between Israel and the PLO on 19 October. Negotiations resumed in Cairo on 18 October after being suspended by Israel for a week in response to the abduction and killing of an Israeli soldier by the Islamist group Hamas. Hamas has claimed responsibility for the latest explosion.
The bomb exploded on a crowded bus north of Dizengoff Square, killing 22 people. Police on the scene of the explosion said the blast was of a similar size to attacks carried out by suicide bombers in the Israeli towns of Afula and Hadera in April, which killed eight and five people, respectively. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin cut short a visit to the UK on the day of bombing to return to Israel.
The explosion follows a week of tension between Palestinians and Israelis after an Israeli soldier, Nachshon Wachsman, was abducted by Hamas and later killed as Israeli commando units stormed the building on the West Bank where he was being held. The leader of the commando raid and the kidnappers were also killed.
The explosion is also likely to create further tensions in the Gaza Strip. After the abduction of Wachsman, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat ordered a round-up of Hamas activists by the Palestinian security forces. About 200 members of the Islamist group were arrested, which prompted demonstrations by Hamas supporters in Gaza on 15 October.
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