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Bomb tears apart bus in Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A suicide bomber killed 19 people and wounded at least 50 others in a blast on a city bus Tuesday morning in southern Jerusalem, according to Israeli police.

The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the terror attack, according to Hamas sources in Gaza. The suicide bomber also died in the attack.

The bombing took place during rush hour. Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman told CNN that the "bus is usually filled with people on the way to work."

A high school is nearby and several of the dead are said to be students. The Israeli Education Ministry sent counselors to the city's schools. (Full story)

Ruth Elmaliach, a teacher at the high school, said she was in her car when she saw the bus blow up.

"The bus is always packed at this hour ... now we're checking to see if all the students have arrived, but I'm afraid some of them have not," the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz quoted her as telling Israel Radio.

Television images showed the top of the bus peeled off and all the windows blown out.

Rescue workers covered the dead with black plastic bags and placed them on a sidewalk. "Where is my sister? Where is my sister?" a woman screamed as volunteers collected remains, The Associated Press reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who visited the scene of the terror attack, told reporters, "The horrible pictures we saw here today of these murderous acts by the Palestinians are stronger than any words. This terrible act -- the continuation of the Palestinian terrorism -- it is this terrorism that we have to fight, and that is what we shall do."

The Israeli military made recommendations to Sharon and his Cabinet on what Israel's response to the bombing should be. The Cabinet was holding a meeting to consider those recommendations.

The Palestinian Authority disavowed the attack.

"The Palestinian Authority ... retains its position of not condoning the killing of civilians -- Palestinians and Israelis," said Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator. "We reject any Israeli attempt to assign blame or finger-pointing at us. The Israelis have done nothing in the last 21 months but destroy our ability [to go after the bombers]."

Israel, however, placed the blame on the Palestinian leadership, calling its statements "false condemnations."

"We see exactly what's going on," said Arye Mekel, an Israeli government spokesman. "Anytime that there's a chance for any resumption of the peace process ... this is what the Palestinians are doing."

In Washington, Scott McClellan, spokesman for George W. Bush said, "The president condemns the act of terror in the strongest possible terms."

The blast occurred at a busy intersection as the bus 32 made its way from Gilo, a Jewish neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. The group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has carried out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks on Israeli military.

Israel began construction Sunday on what is intended to be a 217-mile (350-kilometer) fence designed to keep suicide bombers out of Israel. The fence is being built along the unmarked border between Israel and the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 war.

The barrier is expected to be composed of fences, walls, ditches, patrol roads, and electronic surveillance devices. The first 68 miles (110 kilometers) of the $200 million project are expected to be completed within a year.

Bush to present plan for Palestinian statehood

Bush, meanwhile, was preparing to lay out his plan to bring about Palestinian statehood and help with Israel's security.

The London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat, quoting a high-ranking Egyptian official, reported Tuesday that Bush will call for an independent Palestinian state, recognized by the United Nations, in order to establish that negotiations take place between two nations.

But the latest suicide bombing could complicate Bush's plans to unveil a vision for easing Middle East tensions.

"What Palestinian state are they intending?" a troubled Sharon said Tuesday. "What Palestinian state are they talking about?"

-- CNN Correspondent Sheila MacVicar and CNN Producer Michal Zippori contributed to this report.


:( ....The cycle of violence continues.......

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Are you kidding me?/? This is just ridiculous, these reports are filing in as often as Barry Bonds hits a home run. I don't mean to sound cruel, but it's THAT RIDICULOUS :mad: :mad: :mad:

i mean, enough is enough. They''re driving this into the ground, and each time another suicide bomber succeeds in kiling more Jews, the more anticipatory future strikes may happen (giving the palestinians reason for dying, thereby the neverending killing cycle goes on and on and on...

And Ariel Sharon isn't doing much better. He clamps down for a few weeks, holds back, and the same shit keeps happenening again...

Could we have avoided this :confused:

(THings seemed better w/ Bibi Netanyahu, Clinton and Arafat working together. Now, it's all about power)

I feel so bad for all the innocent lives . This is a real shame :(

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things were not better with netanyahu....i remember unemployment skyrocketed when he came into office and the shit started to hit the fan...barak and sharon are no better....things have been pretty fucked in israel since rabin got killed...which is such a shame, he was a good leader....

now israel is talking about taking back palestinian territory AGAIN until the bombings end....is sharon that dense to realize that this will only provoke more violence from their part? just fucking make peace already! :mad:

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