abbas 88 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas condemned Monday's suicide attack in Tel Aviv, while the new Hamas cabinet defended the bombing, saying the Palestinians had the right to defend themselves against Israeli "atrocities."
The suicide bomber's family, who said they were unaware of their son's intention to carry out a suicide attack, evacuated their house in the village of al-Gharakah west of Jenin for fear the IDF would demolish it. The terrorist was identified by Islamic Jihad as Sami Hamad, who worked as a waiter in a Palestinian-owned restaurant. Media reports listed his age as 16, but according to his mother, Samiya, he was 21.
Hamad left home a few days ago and was not seen since. Samiya said she and her family were shocked to hear that he had carried out the attack in Tel Aviv.
According to his mother, Hamad had graduated from high school and studied social work through a distance-learning program of Jerusalem's Al-Quds University, but was forced to drop out because his parents could not afford to support him. After leaving the university, he worked in several jobs, including at a local restaurant, the family said.
Hamad said in his farewell video that he planned to carry out the bombing for the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Monday was marked as Prisoners' Day by Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the attack, announced that the bombing was the first of 70 suicide attacks that its members were planning to carry out inside Israel.
"This terrorist operation violates the Palestinian national consensus," Abbas told reporters in the Jordanian capital of Amman. "It also causes damage to the higher interests of our people."
Abbas also urged the international community to intervene to halt the latest cycle of violence in the region.
He did not, however, comment on the gunmen belonging to his own Fatah party who had also claimed responsibility for the attack.
Hamas leaders refused to condemn the attack, saying it was a "natural response to Israel's recent actions against the Palestinians."
Holding Israel responsible for the consequences of its military operations, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the suicide attack underlined the Palestinians' right to self-defense. He also blamed the international community for failing to exert pressure on Israel.
Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas cabinet, said that Israel's "continued occupation was the reason behind tensions and the never-ending cycle of violence." He added that the cabinet had called on all parties to keep civilians out of the cycle of violence. "Although the Palestinians factions remain committed to the cease-fire, Israel has continuously violated the calm," he said.
The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, which is formally in charge of the Palestinian security forces, said the attack was the direct result of Israel's "foolish" policies.
"The [Tel Aviv] operation is the direct result of Israel's failed policies against the Palestinians," ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal said. "Israel is carrying out an organized bloody campaign against the Palestinians in addition to the economic sanctions that are designed to starve our people."
Islamic Jihad leaders Khaled al-Batsh and Khader Habib welcomed the attack. "The Palestinian people support this operation," Habib said. "The enemy is trying to destroy our people and does not need excuses." Speaking to reporters in Gaza City, Batsh said: "We congratulate the Palestinians on this heroic attack, which was carried out by our fighters who managed to avoid the Israeli closure and checkpoints.
Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad's armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades, claimed that the attack was the first in 70 suicide bombings that his group had decided to carry out inside Israel.
He said Hamad belonged to the newly founded Martyrs' Unit. "Hamad headed to Tel Aviv carrying a 13-kilogram explosive belt, and blew himself up in front of one of the restaurants after bypassing all the Israeli checkpoints," the spokesman said.
He lashed out at Abbas and other Fatah leaders for condemning the attack, saying such policies belonged to the past. "This is a legitimate attack by all the international laws and conventions, as well as religious rules, and no one can condemn this act of resistance," he added.
AP contributed to this report.