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Israeli Cabinet Seals Gaza, W. Bank

By Mary Curtius
Los Angeles Times

Responding to Wednesday's deadly bombing of a Tel Aviv bus, the Israeli Cabinet on Thursday ordered the West Bank and Gaza Strip sealed indefinitely, a move the Palestinian self-governing authority immediately denounced as an act of "economic and social war."

The nation was plunged into mourning as families buried 14 of the 19 Israelis killed in the bombing. One Dutch tourist also died. Drivers for the Dan Bus Co., whose No. 5 bus was incinerated in the attack, kept their headlights on all day as they traveled their routes, a gesture of solidarity with the victims.

And by Thursday afternoon, a videotape began airing on Israel Television of the man who is believed to have carried out the attack.

In the videotape, Salah Abdel-Rahim Hassan Souwi Nazal, 27, who carried a briefcase packed with explosives aboard the No. 5 and is thought to have blown himself to bits in the bombing, bade farewell to his friends and family. Nazal cradled an Israeli-made Galil rifle in his arms as he somberly addressed the camera.

The neatly dressed man said that he wanted to avenge the deaths of three Hamas militants killed by Israeli soldiers on Oct. 14 in the army's failed attempt to rescue an Israeli soldier kidnaped by Hamas. The kidnapped soldier, Nachshon Waxman, and another Israeli soldier were killed in a raid on the West Bank house where Waxman was held.

Nazal also said that his brother had been killed by Israeli soldiers during the Palestinian uprising, or "intifada," that erupted in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in December, 1987.

The army put Qalqiliya, Nazal's West Bank hometown, under curfew and said it would demolish the home of Nazal's family, even though a survivor of the bombing who sat behind the suspected attacker told Israeli Radio she did not believe the man in the videotape was the one on the bus.

The curfew and demolition appeared to be the government's first show of force in what Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has promised will be a war against Hamas.

Addressing the nation Wednesday night, Rabin said that he did not want the security forces hampered by the guidelines of the Landau Commission when dealing with Hamas. The commission devised guidelines several years ago for security forces to use "limited physical pressure" in the course of interrogations, in situations where lives could be saved by obtaining information from a suspect.