The Impact of the Conflict on Children
Playground Bombing Injures 20 Palestinians
A bomb, which may have been planted by Jewish extremists, exploded in a West Bank school playground yesterday, injuring 20 Palestinian children.
A shadowy Jewish group called Revenge of the Infants claimed responsibility for the attack at the secondary school in the village of Jaba’a, south of Jenin.
Lutfi Abu Oun, mayor of Jaba’a, said two of the teenagers were seriously injured. All the wounded were taken to hospitals in Jenin and Nablus.
Ismail Salah, the school’s headmaster, said the explosion tore through a classroom for 16-year-old boys as they returned from a midday recess.
Witnesses said desks and chairs were hurled about by the blast. Pools of blood and glass shards littered the floor.
Israeli police said they could not confirm the authenticity of the claim by the group, and added that the bomb could have been brought to the school by one of the students, although they had yet to investigate the scene.
An Israeli police spokesman, Gil Kleiman, said: “We have no hard evidence whether this was a true announcement. We have opened an inquiry and a decision has to be made whether we can send a bomb squad to investigate.”
Last year, a bomb planted by the group in an east Jerusalem school playground injured eight children.
Jewish militants were active in the West Bank until the early 1980s when the government clamped down on their activities.
Since the start of the current intifada in 2000, acts of Jewish terrorism have been rare.
In 2001, three members of a Palestinian family, including a two-month-old boy, were killed when Jewish militants sprayed a van with bullets in the West Bank. Witnesses said the killers escaped through an Israeli army checkpoint.
The Israeli human rights group, B’tselem, has accused the Israeli authorities of “tacit consent” in these attacks by elements believed to operate among Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The police and army deny the charges.
Elsewhere in the West Bank yesterday, the Palestinian prime minister-designate, Mahmoud Abbas, delayed naming his cabinet for two weeks, further postponing the publication of the “road map”, an agenda for peace sponsored by the US, Russia, the UN and the EU. The plan sees an independent Palestinian state coexisting with Israel by 2005.
Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority has objected to the changes Mr Abbas, better known as Abu Mazen, wants to make.
The main disagreement appears to be over the appointment of a new interior minister. Mr Abbas would like to appoint Mohammed Dahlan, who is also backed by international mediators, while Mr Arafat would like him to retain Hani al Hassan, an Arafat loyalist.
The Israeli government yesterday defended its assassination of Said Arbid, a senior Hamas activist in Gaza City on Tuesday.
Two of Arbid’s associates and four onlookers were killed when an F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at his car and a helicopter fired a missile at the onlookers gathered near the wreckage.
Israel’s deputy defence minister, Ze’ev Boim, described the killing as the “the liquidation of a head of the snake”.
Hamas retaliated by firing three rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot, and mortars at several Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces later raided Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza to prevent the firing of further rockets at Sderot. Witnesses said the Israeli tanks and personnel carriers were attacked with stones when they entered the town. The tank crews fired back and were believed to have killed three people, one of them aged 16.
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