In Israel the death toll from Monday’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv has reached nine making it the deadliest Palestinian attack on Israel in almost two years. Dozens were also injured in the blast which occurred on the second-to-last day of the Passover holiday.
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack and Hamas — which now leads the Palestinian government — said the attack was justified. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri: “We assure our Palestinian peoples right to defend themselves and this operation (attack) is surely a natural reaction to the continued Zionist crimes carried out against our Palestinian people, therefore the occupation is responsible for all these developments and escalation, we have continuously said that the occupation is who will be responsible for all the results coming stemming from their (occupations) aggression and escalation and therefore the problem is in the attackers and the Palestinian people are defending themselves and they have the right to do so using all the means available.”
The bombing was widely criticized by the international community. Israel accused the Hamas-run Palestinian government of being part of a new “axis of terror” along with Iran and Syria. This is “We will not passively allow human bombs, Katyushas or Qassams to penetrate our territory, kill Israeli citizens and put our people at risk. Let me make it very clear, Israel regrets any loss of life, said Dan Gillerman, Israeli representative at the United Nations. “But any attempt to equate the loss of life caused erroneously, by Israel acting in self defense, where the suicide bombers specifically targeting women and children is morally wrong and false. Terror is terror is terror. And can never and must never be justified. In view of all this Mr. President and distinguished members of the Council, what would you do?” The Palestinian group Islamic Jihad said the bombing was carried out by a young man named Sami Hammad from Jenin. The Independent of London reported Hammad was only 17 years old but other news accounts said he was 21. In a video recorded before the blast, Hammad said the attack was dedicated to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Monday marked what is known as Palestinian Prisoner’s Day.
In Durham North Carolina, two members of the Duke University lacrosse team have been arrested and charged with first-degree rape, first-degree forcible rape and kidnapping. Last month a black female student from North Carolina Central University accused three white members of Duke University’s Lacrosse team of rape. The woman was hired as a dancer for a lacrosse team party held in a house rented from Duke University. There she says she was beaten, raped and choked by three white lacrosse team members who also called her racial epithets. The lacrosse players, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, are both 20-year-old sophomores. They were arrested early this morning. Bond has been set for $400,000.
In India, survivors of the Bhopal chemical plant disaster have succeeded in finally forcing the Indian government to take steps to clean up the site of the 1984 gas leak that killed thousands. On Monday, India’s prime minister vowed to clean up the pesticide factory as well as to provide fresh drinking water for local residents and to build a memorial for the thousands who died in the disaster. For the past 20 years survivors have been attempting to get help from the Indian government and the U.S. company Dow Chemical. Earlier this year a group of 40 survivors and activists walked 500 miles from Bhopal to New Delhi. Last week they began a hunger strike.
In Nepal, pro-democracy protests are continuing for a 13th day. On Monday police shot dead one protester. The BBC is reporting police in Nepal have arrested 25 government officials for demonstrating against King Gyanendra inside the Home Ministry. Among the detained are four high ranking officials. This marks the first time civil servants have been arrested for joining opposition protests against the king.
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from two Chinese Muslims who are being held at the U.S. military prison Guantanamo Bay even though the government acknowledges they were mistakenly detained. The men have been held for more than four years. Lawyers for the men said they should be immediately released but the Bush administration has refused the request. Officials say they have been unable to find a country that will accept the men after their release. Both men are Uyghurs and do not want to return to China out of fear that they would be imprisoned and tortured.
In political news, former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel has become the first Democrat to officially announce he will seek the party’s nomination for president in 2008. Gravel served in the Senate from 1969 to 1981. Gravel who was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and is vowing to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. He said “President Bush’s mistake is not worth the life or maiming of one more American soldier.”
San Francisco is marking the 100th anniversary of the Great Quake of 1906 that killed between three and six thousand people. The earthquake left at least 225,000 homeless and destroyed 25,000 buildings. It was one of the worst natural disasters in the country’s history.
Meanwhile Russia is preparing to mark the 20th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. A new report by Greenpeace claims the health effects of the world’s worst nuclear accident have been grossly underestimated. The International Atomic Energy Agency has maintained that radioactive fallout from Chernobyl caused 4,000 extra cancer deaths. But Greenpeace puts the actual number at 93,000.