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Bid to halt Arab suicide bombings

JERUSALEM (ICN): A delegation of Christian clerics led by Jerusalem Patriarch Michel Sabbah made a rare visit last Saturday to the spiritual leader of the militant Hamas movement, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in a bid to stop suicide bombings against Israeli targets.

In the two-hour meeting at Yassin’s house, the patriarch tried to revive consultations among Palestinian leaders to seek an end to the attacks, said a Patriarchate official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

There had been speculation that Palestinian militant groups were on the verge of declaring an end to suicide attacks before a July 23 air strike on Gaza City that killed the leader of the military wing of Hamas, Salah Shehadeh and 14 others, among them nine children. The impending declaration was apparently called off in the wake of the attack and all consultations put on hold.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the subsequent bombing at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in which seven people, including five American citizens, were killed and for the suicide bombing of a bus in the north of Israel, in which nine people died. The group said the attacks were retaliation for the killing of Shehadeh.

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