The Palestine Liberation Organisation has appealed to the international community to prevent Israel from taking action against Yasser Arafat after a suicide bomber killed 19 people in the Israeli port of Haifa.

Israel holds the Palestinian president responsible for attacks against Israelis and threatened last month to remove him.

At least 19 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in an explosion at a busy restaurant in the Israeli port of Haifa.

Police say a suicide bomber had blown himself up after entering the restaurant, which was filled with people on the Sabbath day during a holiday period.

Five children are believed to be among the dead. The suicide bomber detonated his charge inside Maxim restaurant near Haifa's beach promenade on the southern edge of the city.

The restaurant, which was filled with people enjoying the Yom Kippur holiday, was completely torn apart by the force of the blast.

A senior Palestinian official, Saeb Erakat, has condemned the attack and demanded immediate international action to prevent a further escalation in violence.

The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he blames the Palestinian Authority because it had not dismantled terrorist groups.

Police earlier said at least 30 had been wounded in the blast, a number of them critically.

Separately, an eighteen-month-old Palestinian baby has died from head injuries inflicted by Israeli tank fires.

The boy had been wounded last Thursday in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

A 42-year-old man has also died from injuries he sustained six months ago when Jewish settlers opened fire in his direction near the northern West Bank town of Jenin.

Their deaths brought to 3,502 the number of people killed during the three-year-old Palestinian uprising, including 2,617 Palestinians and 822 Israelis, according to AFP.

Israeli officer charged over deaths

Meanwhile, an Israeli army officer has been charged with causing the death of four Palestinians, three of them children last June.

He is accused of ordering tank units to fire shells and machine guns to enforce a curfew in the West Bank town of Jenin. Two of the dead were young brothers.