Temple Mount Opened Wednesday! Sharon Breaks With Bush

by DEBKAfile

20 August 2003

Temple Mount in Jerusalem re-opened Wednesday to Jewish and Christian visitors under heavy police escort. Israeli police closed shrine to Jews in first week of August when threats from Arafat intimidated Muslim Waqf authority - although Israeli internal security minister denied Muslim permission needed for Jewish visits. Wednesday, Waqf voiced hope re-opening of shrine would boost Old City tourism and trade.

Devastating terrorist attacks Tuesday in two Middle East capitals, Jerusalem and Baghdad, leave at least 40 dead, some 250 injured.

Death toll from Tuesday night bus bombing in Jerusalem rose overnight to 20. First victims identified: Lilach Kardi, 22, Menahem Leibel, 24, Shmuel Zargari, 11 months old - all from Jerusalem. Fifty-one of 150 injured remain Wednesday in hospital - ten in serious condition, two critical. Bomber was Hebron imam member of Hamas. IDF force rounds up 17 suspected accomplices in town.

In Baghdad, UN evacuates foreign and injured personnel to Amman in five flights. Devastating suicide truck bombing of UN HQ in Iraqi capital Tuesday killed at least 20, including special UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 16 other UN staffers, injured more than 100.

No group owns up to attack. US official in Baghdad attributes bombing to Saudi terrorists who infiltrated from Syria. Since March, DEBKAfile has been reporting al Qaeda presence in Syria and the free passage of Arab and Islamic combatants through Syria into Iraq with Assad’s connivance


DEBKAfile reports exclusively: US President Bush and Israeli premier Sharon have fallen out. Friendly bid to persuade Sharon to water down demands of Palestinians and mend fences with Bush encouraged Arafat to revive suicide terror attacks in last two weeks.

West Bank and Gaza Strip under full curfew, IDF restores roadblocks around Palestinian towns and at approaches to Israeli cities amid high terror alert. Israel freezes negotiations on withdrawals from Palestinian towns.

Abu Mazen breaks off relations with Hamas and Jihad Islami groups. DEBKAfile: Exchanges will continue through Egypt as Palestinian PM remains bent on evading crackdown on Palestinian terrorists.