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At approximately 7.15 p.m. (local time) last night, two Palestinian terrorists, armed with hand grenades and automatic weapons, infiltrated the Israeli community of Alei Sinai, killing an Israeli couple — Liron Harpaz, age 19, and Assaf Itzhaki, age 21 — and wounding 15 others. The gunmen then barricaded themselves inside a house where they engaged in a heavy gun battle with Israeli forces for several hours before being subdued. The terrorist organization Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
Earlier yesterday, a car bomb exploded in the southern Jerusalem neighbourhood of Talpiot shortly after 9.00 a.m. (local time), wounding several pedestrians. The vehicle was in a small parking lot next to an apartment building and, in addition to a 12-kilogram bomb, was packed with a liquid propane gas tank, automatic rifle bullets, ball bearings, nails and other metal parts in order to magnify the lethal effect of the blast. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the blast.
In yet another incident, Palestinian snipers opened fire today on several Jewish worshippers outside the Cave of Patriarchs, one of the most sacred sites to both Jews and Muslims, wounding four women. Those wounded, who had travelled to the site in celebration of the Jewish festival of Tabernacles, were evacuated to nearby hospitals.
These attacks are the latest incidents in the Palestinians’ continuing terrorist war that has persisted without respite for more than a year. Previous attacks have been detailed in my letters dated 24 September 2001 (A/56/406-S/2001/907), 20 September 2001 (A/56/386-S/2001/892), 17 September 2001 (A/56/367-S/2001/875), 7 September 2001 (A/56/346-S/2001/858), 4 September 2001 (A/56/331-S/2001/840), 30 August 2001 (A/56/325-S/2001/834), 27 August 2001 (A/56/324-S/2001/825), 13 August 2001 (A/56/294-S/2001/787), 9 August 2001 (A/56/272-S/2001/768), 27 July 2001 (A/56/225-S/2001/743), 26 July 2001 (A/56/223-S/2001/737), 17 July 2001 (A/56/201-S/2001/706), 13 July 2001 (A/56/184-S/2001/696), 3 July 2001 (A/56/138-S/2001/662), 21 June 2001 (A/56/119-S/2001/619), 19 June 2001 (A/56/98-S/2001/611), 18 June 2001 (A/56/97-S/2001/604), 13 June 2001 (A/56/92-S/2001/585), 11 June 2001 (A/56/91-S/2001/580), 4 June 2001 (A/56/85-S/2001/555), 30 May 2001 (A/56/81-S/2001/540), 25 May 2001 (A/56/80-S/2001/524), 18 May 2001 (A/56/78-S/2001/506), 11 May 2001 (A/56/72-S/2001/473), 9 May 2001 (A/56/69-S/2001/459), 1 May 2001 (A/55/924-S/2001/435), 23 April 2001 (A/55/910-S/2001/396), 16 April 2001 (A/55/901-S/2001/364), 28 March 2001 (A/55/863-S/2001/291), 27 March 2001 (A/55/860-S/2001/280), 26 March 2001 (A/55/858-S/2001/278), 19 March 2001 (A/55/842-S/2001/244), 5 March 2001 (A/55/821-S/2001/193), 2 March 2001 (A/55/819-S/2001/187), 14 February 2001 (A/55/787-S/2001/137), 13 February 2001 (A/55/781-S/2001/132), 2 February 2001 (A/55/762-S/2001/103), 25 January 2001 (A/55/748-S/2001/81), 23 January 2001 (A/55/742-S/2001/71), 28 December 2000 (A/55/719-S/2000/1252), 22 November 2000 (A/55/641-S/2000/1114), 20 November 2000 (A/55/634-S/2000/1108) and 2 November 2000 (A/55/540-S/2000/1065).
The State of Israel holds the Palestinian leadership responsible for these attacks in light of its relentless incitement of the population to violence, its open collusion with declared terrorist groups, and its adamant refusal to take concrete measures against known terrorists. Since the outbreak of violence over a year ago, the Palestinian Authority has released convicted terrorists from prison, openly aided and abetted them in carrying out their murderous aggression, and granted them safe harbour in the territory under its control, all the while continuing to make fictitious claims of adhering to a ceasefire.
The latest of these empty declarations came last week following a meeting between Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shimon Peres. Following Chairman Arafat’s call for a ceasefire, Israel implemented several measures to ease conditions for the Palestinian people, pursuant to the understandings reached. Nevertheless, the attacks continued unabated.
Israel takes note of Chairman Arafat’s condemnation of the attack at Alei Sinai, but reiterates that words are insufficient and must be bolstered by a concerted and discernible effort to calm the situation on the ground. As is apparent from events over the last several days, the Palestinian leadership’s condemnations and calls for a ceasefire are hollow pronouncements, divorced from the reality on the street, designed to obscure continuing Palestinian support for terrorist operations.
Israel again calls on the Palestinian leadership to fulfil its repeated legal obligations to renounce the use of violence and terrorism and to control and punish those who continue to engage in such practices. Israel further calls on the international community to take steps to eradicate this terrorism and its supporters within the context of the global campaign against terrorism, and compel the Palestinian Authority to fulfil its obligations to prevent its territory from being used as a base for terror operations and return to the path of peaceful negotiations.
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter circulated as a document of the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 166, and of the Security Council.