Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon has accused Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's forces of involvement in this morning's bomb attack on the coastal city of Netanya. Four people, including the bomber, were killed in the explosion. At least 66 people were injured in the blast, which came a day after Islamic militants vowed to launch fresh attacks. Despite stricter police controls there have been four bomb attacks in Israel since the election of Mr Sharon as Prime Minister last month. In a separate development, the ultra Orthodox Jewish Shas Party has agreed to join a national unity government led by Mr Sharon.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility after this morning's bomb attack but Israeli police had been on heightened alert for possible attacks by Palestinian militants. The Palestinian group Hamas vowed to go on attacking Israel after the bombing. Hamas spokesman Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said that he had no idea who was behind the attack, but that Palestinian resistance would continue with the aim of "pushing the Israelis outside our land".

The bomb came a day after the military wing of Hamas said in a statement that more than ten suicide bombers were prepared to carry out suicide attacks deep inside Israel. Lieutenant-General Mofaz said in an interview broadcast early yesterday that Israel would intensify its fight against the Palestinian uprising in which more than 400 people have been killed, most of them Palestinians.