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Israelis return to market that was scene of deadly bombing

July 31, 1997

JERUSALEM (AP) _ A pall hung over Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market Thursday; an eerie hush punctuated by the eruption of arguments between shoppers and merchants, their nerves on edge.

Whose fault was Wednesday’s deadly bombing at the popular vegetable market? Had Israelis done enough to protect themselves? Should Arab workers be banned from the marketplace?

``Why do you let Arabs work in the market? You let them earn a living here, and look how they repay you,″ one woman shouted at Moshe Shachar, chairman of the Mahane Yehuda Market Association.

``It wasn’t the Arab workers who brought the bombs,″ Shachar retorted. ``It was two extremists. Do you want peace or not? If you do, you can’t prevent a Palestinian from earning a living.″

Israelis returned to the reopened market Thursday, back in business after two suicide bombers killed themselves and 13 others at the crowded market Thursday. The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility.

The shoe store of bombing victim David Nasco, 43, was closed Thursday, black-bordered death notices on its metal doors.

Memorial candles burned on a shattered motorbike that served as a makeshift monument at Mahane Yehuda. The twisted scooter, its key still in the ignition, belonged to Simha Fremd, a 92-year-old-man killed in the blast.

Palestinian market workers from the West Bank were absent Thursday because Israel imposed a closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the bombings. Arabs from east Jerusalem were not affected, but most stayed away, waiting for passions to cool.

Aharon Boneh, who owns a delicatessen and employs two east Jerusalem Arabs, said Arabs will always be employed at the market, since Jews do not want the kinds of jobs he has to offer.

``They need the jobs and we can’t manage without them,″ he said.

Clusters of shoppers argued over who was responsible for Israel’s seeming inability to prevent bombings in its streets and markets.

Some blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose election in May 1996 was largely possible because of the Labor government’s seeming impotence in the face of similar attacks. Others still blamed Labor.

``They’ve armed the Arabs. They’re always trying to give them things,″ one man said.

By midday Thursday, the market was packed again.

``Nobody can frighten Jerusalem people away from the market,″ said Yigal, a fruit vendor who refused to give his last name.

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