24 dead Israelis, and more than 160 wounded, many in critical condition, which is sure to increase the number of the dead within the next few days.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the massacre, as their suicide bomber walked into a hotel in the Israeli city of Netanyah, entered a crowded dining room where Jews were celebrating the Passover Seder (main festive meal), and blew himself up.
My 2-cent Analysis:
1. From the photos of the damaged premises, it looks like a very large quantity of high-powered explosives. My guess is that there was al Qeda or Iranian expertise involved in assembling the bomb and planning the massacre.
2. I also have been noticing how the Muslim community worldwide has been asking lately for special consideration for sensitivity to their religious beliefs. Of course, the Muslim terrorists themselves specifically plan massacres of the Jews on every Jewish holiday.
3. Israel is, once again, at a crossroads when it must conduct a massive military campaign and deal a devastating blow to the Palestinians to have any credibility or power of deterrence left.
4. President Bush today condemned in the strongest of terms... blah blah blah... Zinni's mission will continue. This is not good. Business as usual means that there is no deterrence for terrorism and that Jewish blood is cheap.
5. For the first time (so far as I remember) even Shimon Peres stated that Arafat and the PA were directly responsible. However, he is urging Arafat to do more ot stop terrorism. This means that Peres still doesn't understand that Arafat needs to go, because it is Arafat who is actively sponsoring and directing the terrorism. Sounds to me like this latest massacre is still not enough to convince Peres that Israel is at war.
6. The Arabs and other Israel-haters are already engaged in shifting the blame to Israel for daring to set the condition of stopping terrorism on Arafat, before allowing the mass murderer to travel freely as a world leader.
7. Powell has announced that it is time for Arafat to go on TV and tell his people in Arabic to stop terrorism. This also shows that the US is seeing it as business as usual and envisions Arafat as remaining in power, i.e., the US will put enormous pressure on the Sharon government not to eradicate terrorism at its source.
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As the story unfolds, I'll add to this thread. In the meantime, all are invited to chime in with their own analysis and updates. There is also a new thread started by ibordsky here, about whether Israel has reached the turning point.