Three Jews were murdered, and five people were treated for shock.

Initial reports implied that the explosion inside a small bakery in Eilat around 9:45 AM was caused by a gas canister explosion. However, shortly after 10:30, the police abruptly issued an announcement saying that it was the work of an Arab suicide terrorist. The police announced that the murderer had entered the bakery carrying a large bag and detonated himself. Three dead were reported, in addition to the terrorist himself.

The Al Aksa Brigades of Fatah - an arm of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization - and Islamic Jihad have claimed joint responsibility for the murderous attack. In general, Fatah's Al Aksa Brigades has shared responsibility with Islamic Jihad for the terror attacks against Israel over the past two years.

Just three months ago, Fatah was one of four PA terrorist groups that called on Muslims worldwide to attack the United States "with no mercy."

Despite this, Abbas continues to enjoy the international reputation of a "moderate." Earlier this month, the United States pledged $86.4 million to bolster Fatah security forces under his control.

Israel also just recently transferred $100 million in tax monies to the Palestinian Authority. The National Union submitted a motion of no-confidence in the government on this backdrop.

Today's Attack

Around 9:30 in the morning, Eilat police received a call from a man who said he had stopped for a hitchhiker outside Eilat, given him a ride, dropped him off in the Isidore neighborhood - and that he appeared suspicious. The police sent policemen to the area to investigate, but when they heard the loud blast, they realized they had come too late.

Eyewitnesses questioned by the police said that the bakery was the only store open at that hour. Based on their reports, police surmise that the terrorist was headed for a more crowded spot, but detonated himself in the bakery either because he became scared or accidentally.

The explosion caused tremendous damage, eyewitnesses said, and body parts were strewn over the area.

Israel Police has raised its level of alert throughout the country, as has the Magen David Adom emergency medical service.

Previous Attacks

Today is the last day in office for Eilat's Police Chief, Commander Bruno Stein. His first day in the position, Oct. 7, 2004, was the day of the Taba Hilton multiple terrorist bombings in Egypt, just south of Eilat, in which 34 were killed, including 12 Israelis.

On Oct. 5, 1985, an Egyptian soldier fired on Israeli tourists at Ras Burka, just south of Eilat, killing four children and three adults. Both of these attacks were apparently timed to coincide with the anniversary of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War on Oct. 6, 1973 and the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat on Oct. 6, 1981.

It was reported today that a 17-year-old youth from Alexandria, Egypt was arrested in northern Sinai on his way to enter Israel via the Gaza Strip to carry out a terrorist attack. He left a letter for his family telling of his intention to kill Jews in Israel.

On Nov. 25, 1990, an Egyptian soldier fired at Jewish vehicles at the border near Eilat, killing four and wounding 26. On May 30, 1992, two Palestinian terrorists murdered a man on a beach in Eilat.

Economic Ramifications

Dr. Yoel Mansfeld, head of the Center for Tourism, Pilgrimage and Recreation Research at the University of Haifa, implied that the terrorists were targeting Israel's strong tourism economy in Eilat.

"Just two months ago," he said, "the city hosted a large international conference for travel agents and signs of recovery [from the previous attacks] were emerging, but the effects of today's attack could last at least six months - assuming it is an isolated incident and not the beginning of a new wave of terror."

"The effect of the attack on internal tourism will be short-term," he said. "Israelis are resilient and they will be back in Eilat in a short time. The problem is with foreign tourism."

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