World Reactions to Israel Blasts
LONDON – World leaders pressed Yasser Arafat on Sunday to crack down on militants to prevent the Middle East from spinning out of control after suicide bombings in Israel. But some Palestinian refugees and radicals celebrated the attacks.
Governments around the world rushed to demand the Palestinian leader halt attacks by Palestinian extremists after two bombings and a shooting against Israelis over a 12-hour period killed 26 and wounded nearly 200.
But in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, the mood was one of celebration. Refugees around Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli fired machine guns and pistols into the air in joy, Lebanese security officials said.
The United States, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and others said Arafat must arrest those responsible and move against the organizations behind terrorism.
"Palestinian leaders must do everything in their power to ensure that those who were responsible and the people behind them are punished and further attacks are prevented," Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said.
The European Union, to which Arafat has often turned looking for support, expressed its "absolute condemnation" of the attacks and urged Arafat's administration to "do its utmost" to prevent attacks.
Focusing on the human toll, Pope John Paul II told pilgrims at the Vatican that the attacks were "sorrowful and worrisome." He urged people to pray for peace.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings against a pedestrian mall in Jerusalem on Saturday and a bus in Haifa on Sunday.
There was concern around the world that Israel would respond with tough military action that could make the situation even more dangerous. The strong international demands for Arafat to crack down on militants appeared aimed at placating Israel and moderating any response.
There was sympathy around the world for Israel.
On a tour of North Africa, French President Jacques Chirac strongly condemned the attacks.
"I would like to express my immense emotion once again in the face of these odious attacks which nothing, nothing can justify or explain, and which I condemn like everyone without reserve," Chirac told reporters.
Islamic militants in the Middle East welcomed the attacks.
"These great achievements restore the spirit of victory and jihad to the people and the nation," said Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, leader of the Syrian-based militant Islamic Jihad group.
Shallah, in an interview with Al-Manar Television run by the Hezbollah guerrilla group, condemned U.S. efforts to arrange a truce after 14 months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
"The Americans have come to the region with one goal — an Israeli goal — to liquidate the intefadeh [uprising] and resistance," he said.
But Arab nations reacted with horror, condemning the attacks and urging an end to violence on both sides.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said, "Egypt condemns all acts of reciprocal violence that target the innocent and we demand the cessation of all acts of revenge and military acts to spare [people's] blood."