A series of blasts ripped through a pedestrian mall in Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon, killing 6 people and wounding 165.
In a leaflet faxed to news agencies, the militant group Hamas said it was responsible.
The explosions took place in the Ben Yehuda shopping mall in the early afternoon, when hundreds of people were milling about.
Dazed tourists and Israelis staggered about in shock after a series of blasts ripped through Jerusalem's open-air mall on Thursday afternoon.
Along the Ben Yehuda Street pedestrian walkway, cafe chairs and umbrellas lay scattered on the ground amid heaps of broken glass, packets of sugar and torn merchandise. Blood spattered the facade of the Israel Discount Bank.
A burning smell hung over the scene as rescuers carried away the wounded on stretchers.
Medics treated shocked, bleeding victims on the pavement, and ultra-Orthodox volunteers searched for pieces of flesh in the debris - a familiar scene to Israelis in recent years.
The blasts were caused by three nail-studded bombs, apparently carried by suicide bombers.
The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility in a leaflet faxed to news agencies.
The group threatened to carry out more attacks unless Hamas prisoners held by Israel were released by September 14.
Israel reimposed its tight closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip that it only recently eased.
All Palestinians are barred from entering Israel, the army said.
Some of the victims of the blasts were rushed to Hadassah ein Kerem Hospital in the city.
American tourist, Greg Salzman, from New Brunswick, New Jersey, was in a restaurant nearby when the blasts went off.
The twenty-five-year-old said that he was aware of the risks of holidaying in the area.
"I guess you can say I knew it was a possibility, I feel that its inevitable, and I guess you can say that I would have hoped it would have never happened to me."
Q: "When the blast happened you were still able to leave the restaurant on your own power?"
A: "I ran yeah"
SUPER CAPTION: Greg Salzman, U-S Tourist
Israeli President, Ezer Weizman, paid a visit to the hospital. He said the onus was on Yasser Arafat to clamp down on Hamas.
The attack came only a week before U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was due in the Middle East to try to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.