November 21, 2012
November 21, 2012
An explosion has rocked a bus in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, a day after efforts to end hostilities between Israel and Hamas faltered in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Israeli ambulance services reported the “apparent explosion” in Tel Aviv.
An Al Arabiya correspondent said at least 17 casualties were reported in the explosion, which police stated was “a terrorist attack,” and three were in a critical state.
“A bomb exploded on a bus in central Tel Aviv. This was a terrorist attack. Most of the injured suffered only mild injuries,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman said on his official Twitter account.
The bombing happened on the eighth day of an Israeli offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and celebratory gunfire rang out across the Palestinian enclave when local radio stations reported news of the explosion.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri praised the bombing, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
“Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a natural response to the Israeli massacres…in Gaza,” he told Reuters. “Palestinian factions will resort to all means in order to protect our Palestinian civilians in the absence of a world effort to stop the Israeli aggression.”
Sweet cakes were handed out in celebration in Gaza’s main hospital, which has been inundated with wounded from the round-the-clock Israeli bombing and shelling.
The last time a bomb blast hit Israel’s commercial capital was in April 2006, when a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 11 people at a sandwich stand near the old central bus station.
Hamas militants have fired at least four rockets at the laid-back Mediterranean metropolis over the past week, but none of them have scored direct hits or caused any casualties.
Ambulances converged on the bus on Wednesday, with television showing smoke rising from the broken windows. The vehicle was not torn apart in the explosion, suggesting it might have been a relatively small bomb.
“We have no indications it was a suicide bomber. But it was an attack,” Tel Aviv police chief Yoram Ohayon told Channel 2 television.
The attack happened as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Israel trying to calm tensions over Gaza. She was due to fly to Cairo later in the day for talks with President Mohamed Mursi, who is spearheading ceasefire negotiations.
Source: Al Arabiya