Israel’s fears of an escalation in Palestinian terror attacks proved true when a Palestinian terrorist’s bomb exploded on a bus in Jerusalem, wounding 21. The attack is reminiscent of the string of bombings that shook Israel not long ago. Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to “settle the score” with those responsible.
By: AP and World Israel News Staff
In an apparent escalation of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis, a Palestinian terrorist exploded a bomb on a bus in Jerusalem on Monday, wounding 21 people. The attack has raised fears of a return to the Palestinian suicide bombings that ravaged Israeli cities a decade ago.
“There is no doubt that this was a terror attack,” Jerusalem police commissioner Yoram Halevy said. He said it was too early to know the identity of the terrorist or if it was a suicide bombing.
“We are investigating where the explosive device came from, who planted it, how it got on the bus. All this is in the initial stages of investigation,” he said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 21 people were wounded in the attack, two seriously, seven moderately and the rest lightly. Another bus and a car nearby were also damaged by the explosion.
Police said the blast was caused by an explosive device detonated at the back of the bus.
Bus driver Moshe Levy told reporters he checked his bus for bombs twice before he started his journey. He said he was in a traffic jam when “suddenly there was an explosion in the back, I immediately understood it was a terror attack, I opened the doors of the bus so people could escape and told them to get out.”
ZAKA paramedic volunteer Shimi Grossman, who rides a ZAKA Rapid Rescue motorbike, was among the first on the scene of the terrorist attack. “Close to 18:00, we received an alert for a mass casualty incident and arrived on the scene within minutes. There we found a bus on fire and we could hear secondary explosions. Paramedics and volunteers from ZAKA and MDA administered emergency first aid to the injured. We tried to move them away from the bus because of the fierce flames and heat.”
“A second bus that was close to the bus that exploded also caught fire. The passengers got off the bus and MDA ambulances took the injured to hospitals in the capital. Others suffering from shock were also treated at the scene and were taken to hospital,” he recounted.
“As soon as the fire-fighters brought the fire under control, we went through the buses to ensure that there were no other injured passengers. Sadly, this attack has taken me back to the sights and sounds of the second intifada and to the terrible scenes of injured on buses,” Grossman said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed tough action against the terrorists. “We will locate those who prepared this explosive device. We will reach the dispatchers. We will also reach those behind them. We will settle the score with these terrorists.”
The blast came as jittery Israelis prepared for the Passover holiday amid a seven-month wave of Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, shootings and attacks where cars were used as weapons against civilians and security forces.
Israeli security forces have bolstered their presence at potential flashpoints ahead of the holiday season, as Israel feared that Palestinian terrorists will renew their wave of attacks after a few weeks of relative quiet. The upcoming holiday season includes Passover and Israel’s national holidays, including Independence Day.
For some, the bombing was reminiscent of attacks by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad last decade when the Palestinian terror groups sent suicide bombers to detonate their explosives in buses and cafes.
Hamas Praises Attack
Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, issued a statement praising the bus bombing, but did not take responsibility for it. Some mosques in Gaza also welcomed the attack with messages of praise broadcast from loudspeakers.
A spokesman for Hamas in Qatar, Husam Badran, said “This attack affirms to everyone one that our people will not abandon the resistance path.”
No organization has yet taken responsibility of the attack.
This incident was the latest in a long series of almost daily Palestinian terror attacks, which have plagued Israelis over the course of over seven months, claiming the lives of 33 victims and wounding over 400.