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March 28, 2017

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Islamic Jihad suicide attack at northern Israeli mall kills five

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up Monday among shoppers waiting to enter a mall in the central Israeli town of Netanya, killing at least five people and wounding more than 30 others.

The bombing escalated already heightened tensions between Israel and the Palestinians _ marked by recent airstrikes and rocket attacks _ ahead of upcoming elections on both sides. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon scheduled an emergency meeting of security officials Monday to discuss a response.

Islamic Jihad, a militant group that has carried out several suicide bombings in recent months, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it came in retaliation for Israeli targeted killings of the group's leaders.

Police said guards and police officers spotted the man carrying a suspicious bag near an entrance to the mall where shoppers undergo routine security checks and pushed him up against a wall.

"He was wearing a black sweat shirt and the bag was on the right. I shouted for them to remove his hand from the bag and then the security guard caught him," Shoshi Attia, a policewoman, told Israel Radio.

"I was looking him in the eye and he pressed (the button) and blew up. I flew and all I remember is that I was looking in his eye, I saw his gaze."

The blast shattered windows and pocked the outside of the brown, multistory building. Pieces of concrete were ripped off the facade, blood stained the base of the building and debris was scattered on the sidewalk.

"I heard a huge bomb. It felt like my head was exploding. I turned around and I saw a red ball of fire, and then I ran," said Masouda Israel, a 67-year-old woman who was in Netanya for a doctor's appointment. "You see these things on TV, but when you're there, it's totally different."

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