- At least eight people have been killed by an explosion
on a bus near the northern Israeli city of Haifa.
- The explosion went off in or near the bus at a busy crossroads
during the morning rush hour near a kibbutz at Yagur.
- At least 20 people are reported injured, and are being
ferried to hospital in Haifa.
- "I felt a huge blast. I am afraid to say the sight
is awful," Yitzhak Rottman, a taxi driver, told Israel Radio.
- The blast comes a day after Israel lost 13 reservists
with another seven injured in co-ordinated ambushes at a refugee camp in
the West Bank town of Jenin.
- The attack was the worst loss of life for the Israeli
army since the Palestinian uprising began 18 months ago.
- Later on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
defied US calls for troop withdrawals and promised to continue the military
campaign against Palestinians.
- 'Battle for survival'
- In a nationally televised address after the attacks,
Mr Sharon vowed to continue the offensive which has seen troops occupy
many West Bank towns and besiege Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat inside
- "It was a tough campaign, a campaign that we are
continuing ... until we fulfil the decision of the Cabinet that calls for
the destruction of the infrastructure of the terror groups," Mr Sharon
- "This is a battle for survival of the Jewish people,
for survival of the state of Israel."
- At least 124 Palestinians and 24 Israeli soldiers have
been killed in the course of Operation Defensive Shield, according to Palestinian
medics and the Israeli army.
- Nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been detained. Mr Sharon
said 500 had Israeli blood on their hands.
- The offensive was launched on 29 March in response to
a suicide bombing that killed 27 people celebrating Passover in a Jerusalem
- The United Nations and the US have demanded Israel withdraw
from Palestinian-governed areas.
- US Secretary of State Colin Powell has visited Arab leaders
and will gauge the opinion of the European Union on Wednesday before taking
his peace mission to Israel.
- The Jenin ambush came hours after Israeli forces completed
their withdrawal from the towns of Qalqilya and Tulkarm, although Israeli
tanks remained in a cordon around the towns.
- Mr Powell had said he was encouraged by the partial withdrawal
but added it had to be the start of all Israeli troops leaving the West
- Arafat meeting
- Speaking in Egypt after meetings with President Hosni
Mubarak and Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, Mr Powell said he intended to
meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during his visit to Israel on Thursday.
- He also said that Washington was prepared to send US
observers to monitor a ceasefire between the Palestinians and Israelis.
- Israel radio quoted Mr Sharon as saying the decision
to meet Mr Arafat was a "tragic mistake".
- In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said
President Bush wanted more action from both sides.
- "Israel's [responsibility] is withdrawal and to
do so now," he said.
- "The Arab nations' responsibilities are to exercise
statesmanship and create an environment for peace by condemning terrorism,
by stopping the funding of terrorists."
- At the United Nations, Arab countries introduced another
draft resolution condemning the Israelis for failing to pull their troops
out of Palestinian areas and calling for an international presence on the
- After the ambush in Jenin, the head of Israel's central
command, Major-General Yitzhak Eitan, said there was an "infrastructure
of suicide bombers" in the camp.
- "We will continue to fight as long as necessary
despite the loss. We will continue until we make this camp submit,"
- Heavy fighting was reported elsewhere in the West Bank
on Tuesday, with exchanges of fire in a cemetery outside the village of
Dura, near Hebron.
- Israeli forces took control of the Old City in Nablus,
while in Bethlehem Palestinian gunmen are holed up in the Church of the
Nativity, built over the traditional birthplace of Jesus.