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Israel Vows Kenya Bomb Riposte, Al Qaeda to Blame?

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Fri November 29, 2002 01:11 AM ET

JERUSALEM/MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Israel vowed to hunt down those behind a deadly suicide bombing in Kenya and an attempt to shoot down an airliner full of Israeli tourists as speculation focused on al Qaeda as the likely mastermind.

In Kenya, police hunted for men of Arab appearance who fired missiles at the plane in the coastal resort of Mombasa on Thursday, minutes before a jeep driven at speed exploded in the lobby of a nearby Israeli-owned hotel killing 15 people.

"Our long arm will catch the attackers and those who dispatch them," Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the nation later Thursday after his Likud party re-elected him as its leader ahead of Israel's January 28 general election.

Israeli and Kenyan officials have been quick to blame Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network for the attack on the Mombasa Paradise Hotel. The blast killed three Israelis, nine Kenyans and the three bombers

President Bush condemned the bombing and Secretary of State Colin Powell called on the international community to do everything possible to bring to justice those responsible for the "horrific terrorist" acts.

But the White House said it was too soon to blame the group it accuses of masterminding the September 11 attacks on the United States last year.

Sharon, who also used his victory speech to respond to the killing of six people in an attack in northern Israel, echoed the pledge Israel made after the killing of 11 of its athletes taken hostage by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Israel eventually carried out its threat, using its Mossad spy agency to track down and kill those it held responsible for the Munich attack.

"Israel will hunt down those who spilled the blood of its citizens. No one will emerge unscathed," the right-wing prime minister and former general said in a nationally televised address.

In a fax sent to Reuters by a Lebanese media organization, the previously unheard-of "Army of Palestine" claimed responsibility for the Mombasa attack.

The United States blamed al Qaeda for 1998 truck bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Those attacks killed 224 people, most of them Africans.

Police in Mombasa, who are being helped by Israeli security experts, were questioning two men detained as they tried to check out of a Mombasa hotel.

CHILDREN AND DANCERS

Two of the three Israelis killed there Thursday were children. The nine Kenyan dead included a traditional African dance team welcoming tourists.

Minutes before the suicide bombers struck at the Paradise Hotel, missiles nearly hit an Israeli airliner taking off nearby. Hours later the Arkia Boeing 757-300 with 261 people on board landed safely in Tel Aviv escorted by Israeli military jets.

Police and security sources said the missiles were fired from a white Pajero jeep, possibly from shoulder-held launchers, by attackers suspected of being of Arab origin.

German intelligence sources described the weapons as Soviet-produced SAM-7 ground-to-air missiles.

"The search for the white Pajero and three occupants of Arab origin is on," Kenya police commissioner Philemon Abong'o told reporters.

The hotel attackers were also described as of Arab appearance and driving a four-wheel-drive Pajero.

The Likud contest pitted Sharon, 74, a veteran war horse, against a former prime minister who tried to outflank him on the right by opposing a Palestinian state.

Benjamin Netanyahu, 53, led Israel from 1996 to 1999, when he called a time-out from politics after losing the prime ministerial election to Labour's Ehud Barak.

Asking supporters to forgo celebrations after his landslide win, Sharon made clear Israel would strike back hard for the bombing in Kenya and the attempt to shoot down the tourist plane.

His pledge appeared certain to appeal to an Israeli electorate that has lurched right during a two-year-old Palestinian uprising for independence and is widely expected to return him to office in the January 28 election.

Security is the burning issue for Israeli voters.

While Israel was reeling from the attack on a holiday spot where many Israelis have sought a respite from violence at home, two Palestinian gunmen went on a shooting spree at a Likud polling station in the Israeli town of Beit Shean.

Six people were killed and 34 wounded before the gunmen were shot dead.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, said it had carried out that attack to avenge the deaths of two militant commanders in the West Bank Tuesday that they blamed on Israel.

The Palestinian Authority says Israel's military raids and its army's reoccupation of West Bank cities provokes violence, but it condemned the attack in Beit Shean, saying it damaged the Palestinian national cause.

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Originally posted by underwater

why don't we just move the entire country of isreal to new mexico?....its so tiresome to hear that people keep trying to kill them.....

I have a better idea. Why don’t we stop holding Israel back and let them kick some ass! I think that since the Israelis have cracked down on Gaza and the West Bank, the Arabs are frustrated and had to look outside Israeli borders to continue their sick operations. Why not let them expand their operations into Southern Lebanon and other terrorist hotbeds.

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Originally posted by guyman1966

I have a better idea. Why don’t we stop holding Israel back and let them kick some ass! I think that since the Israelis have cracked down on Gaza and the West Bank, the Arabs are frustrated and had to look outside Israeli borders to continue their sick operations. Why not let them expand their operations into Southern Lebanon and other terrorist hotbeds.

I totally agree with guyman, why dont we stop holding them back and let the Israelis knock the towels of these fuckers heads. Down with Palestine and muslim extremist.....

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