Wednesday, July 30, 1997

2 suicide bombers dressed as ultra-Orthodox Jews detonate explosives in a crowded market in Jerusalem, killing 13 Israelis, wounding more than 170 Israelis, Palestinians. IDF immediately seals the West Bank, Gaza, preventing even town-to-town movement; suspends recognition of Palestinian passports; sends troops to seal the PA-controlled cities. A letter signed by Hamas's military wing, Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, takes responsibility, but Israeli security question its authenticity, Hamas political leader `Abd al-Aziz Rantisi says Hamas was not involved. (MM 7/30; IDF Radio, ITV, RE 7/30 in WNC 7/31; IDF Radio, ITV, JTV 7/30, MA, RAI Uno Television [Rome], RE, YA 7/31 in WNC 8/1; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 7/31; ITV 7/31 in WNC 8/6; CSM, WT 8/1; AFP, MAP [Rabat], VOA 8/1 in WNC 8/4; NYT 8/3; al-Dustur, al-Majd 8/4 in WNC 8/7; CSM 8/5; WJW 8/7; MEI, PR 8/8; JP 8/9; CSM 8/11)

In the wake of the bombings, PM Netanyahu, FM Levy phone Secy. of State Albright, demand that the U.S. put pressure Arafat. The Israeli cabinet suspends all contacts with the PA until Arafat acts against Islamists "with determination," destroys their infrastructure. However, 1 mtg. btwn. Israeli, PA security officials is held. Over night, an IDF helicopter hovers over Arafat's Gaza headquarters, an Israeli warplane circles the Gaza Strip. (MM 7/30; ITV 7/30 in WNC 7/31; MM, NYT, WP, WT 7/31; YA 7/31 in WNC 8/4; WT 8/1)

As a result of the bombings, U.S. special envoy Ross cancels plans to leave today for the Middle East to meet with Arafat, Netanyahu. (MM, WT 7/30; NYT, WP, WT 7/31)

In Amman, King Hussein receives Israeli Knesset "Coalition Bloc for Peace," comprising Gesher, Third Way, Yisra'el B'Aliya, Shas MKs and the dir. of Israel's International Center of Peace in the Middle East. (JTV 7/30 in WNC 7/31)

State Dept. lifts the 12-yr.-old ban forbidding Americans to travel to Lebanon after that government agrees to take new steps to improve security at various locations, pledges to ratify an international convention against hostage-taking. The decision does not include lifting the ban on flights by Lebanese carriers to the U.S. or by U.S. carriers to Lebanon. (MM, WP 7/30; RL, RMC 7/30 in WNC 7/31; WT 7/31; al-Safir 7/31 in WNC 8/1; RL 8/4 in WNC 8/5; WT 8/6; al-Safir 8/6 in WNC 8/8; MEI 8/8)

Saudi Arabian dissident Sayigh backs out of a plea agmt. with the FBI to cooperate in the al-Khobar bombing case; says that he is innocent of any wrongdoing; was pressured by Canadian immigration officials to make statements on the bombing to avoid being deported to Saudi Arabia, where he faces execution. (NYT, WT 7/31) (see 6/30)

ILMG opens 2-day mtg. to discuss 1 Lebanese, 3 Israeli complaints. (VOL 7/30, RL 7/31 in WNC 8/1)

UN extends the UNIFIL mandate for 6 mos. (RL 7/30 in WNC 8/1)

Israeli naval forces detain 5 Lebanese fishermen off the coast of s. Lebanon, interrogate them before releasing them. (RL 7/29 in WNC 7/30) (see 7/28)