An Egyptian state-controlled newspaper praised Monday's suicide attack in Tel Aviv, which killed nine people and wounded dozens, calling it an act of sacrifice and martyrdom.
Egypt has always taken pains to condemn the violence by both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is exceptional for one of the country's three biggest newspapers, whose editor is effectively appointed by President Hosni Mubarak, to endorse a Palestinian attack on Israeli civilians.
"It is not required of the Palestinian people that they raise their hands in surrender, accept the daily Israeli attacks and watch waves of settlers occupy their land and build settlements," Wrote Al Gomhuria in an editorial of its Tuesday edition.
"It is not required of the Palestinian people that they clap Israel and its allies while they mobilize the whole world to besiege the heroic (Palestinian) people ... Because they have chosen Hamas," The editorial said, referring to the United States and European Union's cutting off funds to the Palestinian Authority because its Hamas government refuses to renounce violence. "For all that, the sacrificial and martyrdom attack occurred in the heart of Tel Aviv, and there will be more later," The daily warned. In the Islamic faith, a martyr goes to heaven.
A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Cairo declined to comment on the editorial because he had not yet read it. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and numerous Western governments denounced the attack, but the Hamas government defended it as a legitimate response to Israeli "aggression."
The Islamic Jihad terror group, a rival of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the bombing. Its members celebrated the attack by handing out pastries in the streets of Gaza.
Israel said it held Hamas responsible for the attack - even though Islamic Jihad had claimed responsibility