Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - At least twenty-four people were wounded, two of them seriously, in a suicide bomb attack Friday morning in the Israeli Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.
The terror attack followed a threat by the Hamas terrorist organization to carry out revenge attacks for the Israel's targeted killing of a Gaza Strip militant leader, Adli Hamdan, on Thursday.
Police Commissioner Inspector-General Shlomo Aharonishky, speaking at the scene of the attack, said Israel is on high alert and is expecting more terror attacks. He said the security establishment has only general warnings of attacks before they happen.
Before noon on a bright, sunny Friday, the terrorist blew himself up on a busy pedestrian mall in Tel Aviv near an outdoor cafe, said police spokesman Superintendent Gil Kleiman.
Twenty-four people were wounded, mainly from metal shards packed into the bomb to increase its destructive power. The victims included a four-year-old child and a teenager, the latter among the seriously wounded. The blast destroyed several small shops in the area.
According to Kleiman, police found a bag with a Kalashnikov rifle in it near the scene. Police are checking to see if it was connected to the incident, he added.
One eyewitness said in a radio interview that the bomber was riding on a motor scooter and drove it into a cafe just before blowing himself up.
Later reports said the attacker was simply standing near a motor scooter. Police now believe the attacker arrived at the scene on foot. They said the motor scooter belonged to the owner of a nearby cafe.
Three Qassem-1 missiles were fired at a main crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday but caused no damage, the Israeli army said.
Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzook said in a television interview that his group was developing a rocket with a range of six miles, which would easily be able to target Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem from inside PA-controlled territories.
Marzook made the claim in a CBS interview due to be aired on Sunday, portions of which were released in advance.
Israeli security sources have said that they are aware that Hamas is developing Qassem-1 and Qassem-2 rockets.
Hamas had earlier vowed revenge for the death of Hamdan, 26, in an Israeli helicopter attack on Thursday.
Israel admitted that it had taken the "initiated action" against Hamdan, whom it accused of being personally responsible for dozens of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in the Gaza Strip, including leading the military wing in Gaza responsible for the murder of four Israeli soldiers two weeks ago.
"Hamdan was killed in the midst of preparing a major attack against Israeli targets in the [Gaza] Strip," the army spokesman said in a statement.
Also on Thursday, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also claimed as their own two men killed by the army as they tried to penetrate into a Jewish community in the Gaza Strip. The PFLP said they were suicide bombers.
Earlier this week, four Hamas terrorists were killed in a shoot-out with Israeli troops who were raiding a bomb-making laboratory. It was the largest lab ever discovered in the West Bank, Israeli officials said.
Photographs taken at the scene showed a collection of wires, watches, cellular phones, electronic boards and tools.
Although the materials were common items that could be purchased at any hardware store, some of the devices had already been wired as timers, officials said. The security forces also found a quantity of chemicals used to make explosives, they said.
On Wednesday, two Israeli women were killed and another 14 wounded by gunfire when a Palestinian militant sprayed a busy downtown street in Jerusalem with automatic gunfire.
The terrorist, who was killed by a policeman during an exchange of fire, belonged to the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, which is loosely associated with PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.
E-mail a news tip to Julie Stahl.
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