JERUSALEM – The suicide bombing north of Tel Aviv that killed five Israelis and wounded more than 30 this week was directly backed by Syria and Iran, security sources said.

Meanwhile, a member of a terrorist groups reportedly involved in the blast told WND a Palestinian terror leader in Damascus demanded the suicide attack be carried out.

“The reaction of [Islamic Jihad leader] Ramadan Abdullah Shallah from his base in Damascus [to Israel’s killing earlier of a senior Jihad member] was a clear demand to the Palestinian resistance, especially to Islamic Jihad to take revenge,” said Abu Carmel, a West Bank leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party.

Abu Carmel was speaking to WND after a suicide bomber exploded in an open-air market in the coastal city of Hadera Wednesday. The attack was carried out in front of a falafel stand at the entrance to the market. Hadera has been a frequent target of bombings during the past five years.

The Islamic Jihad terror group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, saying the bombing was retaliation for the death of one of its senior leaders in an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank earlier this week. Sources close to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades told WND the group was involved in the attack as well.

Israeli security sources say the Islamic Jihad terrorist infrastructure responsible for directing suicide bombings is largely located in Damascus, where the group would need to have the tacit approval of the Syrian leadership before carrying out suicide attacks against the Jewish state. Jihad chief Shallah operates openly from Syria, where he gives media interviews and makes public appearances.

“The Palestinian terror leadership, especially Islamic Jihad, has their main organizational infrastructure in Syria, where attacks are directed from,” said a senior security official. “They know they have a safe haven there, where they think they are free from Israeli retaliation.”

Security sources say the Islamic Jihad cell responsible for the bombing is also involved with Syrian-backed Hezbollah. Sources said Hezbollah forces at the direction of Syria have created a terror apparatus of Palestinian militants in the West Bank consisting mostly of Jihad members who receive full-time salaries from the Lebanese group.

Palestinian security previously had intercepted a series of communications, including phone calls and e-mails, between Hezbollah and West Bank terrorists indicating Hezbollah had been trying to recruit suicide bombers to carry out attacks, sources say.

One official said intercepted bank transactions previously suggested Hezbollah had raised its cash offers to Palestinian terrorists and now is willing to pay $100,000 for a suicide bombing operation. In the past, information indicated Hezbollah would pay $20,000 for such attacks.

The security officials say that while Syria allows Palestinian terrorists to operate from their country, Iran is largely behind the terror financing.

Major-General Yaacov Amidror, former head of Israel’s military intelligence, told WND, “The money comes straight from Iran. At one point, we had information Iran once told Islamic Jihad if they didn’t carry out a suicide attack within 60 days, they would cut back their funding. That just illustrates the kind of relationship Tehran has with them. Also with Hezbollah.”

Said a senior security official, “Both Syria and Iran are under mounting international pressure. They need a distraction and they need a conflict somewhere else. They know suicide bombings force Israel to respond.”

Iran has been under fire for its growing nuclear ambitions. Yesterday, countries from around the world blasted remarks this week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for Israel to be “wiped off the face of the earth.”

The U.S. is looking to bring Security Council sanctions against Syria for its suspected role in the assassination in February of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. A U.N. report released last week said senior Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officials plotted the murder. It listed Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother and brother-in-law as key suspects.

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