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Fayyad, Haniyeh react to Jaba accident

Feb. 16, 2012 8:42 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 17, 2012 1:08 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian leaders in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip expressed sorrow Thursday after a bus accident killed at least six children south of Ramallah.

In Ramallah, Salam Fayyad called the fiery crash "a national disaster," and said the tragedy was felt by every Palestinian. "We express our sorrow and extend condolences to the victims' families," he said.

"Our hearts are with the victims' families and we wish a speedy recovery to the injured children who remain hospitalized. This is a sad day for us here in Palestine, and may the souls of the children rest in peace."

In Gaza City, Ismail Haniyeh extended condolences to the victims' families and demanded an investigation into the accident, which was between a school bus and an Israeli-plated truck.

"We demand a serious investigation into the cause of the accident. ... If it was deliberate, then there's been an ugly massacre. Without prejudging the facts, we nonetheless demand an investigation."

Neither Palestinian nor Israeli police have suggested foul play leading up to the crash, although the Palestinian Authority health minister criticized Israel for not responding sooner.

Fathi Abu Moghli told a news conference that Israel shared responsibility for the six dead, as its forces failed to respond right away even though the crash was in an area in which the PA is not allowed to operate. More lives could have been saved if they had arrived right away, he said.

Palestinian medics arrived at the scene first, after receiving calls from civilians at the scene. Israeli and Palestinian emergency crews later cooperated in rescue efforts, officials on both sides said. At least eight of the 39 injured are being treated inside Israel, an army spokesman said.

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