In what appears to be the first major terrorist attack in Jerusalem in several years, a bomb exploded near a bus in central Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon, killing at least one and injuring over 35 people, three seriously. According to Israel’s public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovich, the bomb was about four pounds, packed with shrapnel, and planted in a small bag on the sidewalk. The 3 p.m. attack occurred near the main entrance to Jerusalem, next to the city’s central bus station, an area that is crowded with travelers and passers-by at all hours of the day.
Jerusalem was the target of dozens of suicide bombings inside buses and restaurants during the height of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which began in September 2000. And although Jerusalem last experienced a suicide bombing in 2004, the city has been hit by a number of terror attacks over the years. Two of them – one in 2008 and another in 2009 – involved tractor drivers that plowed down a central street.
The scene at the March 23 explosion in Jerusalem, Israel.
Today’s bombing comes as tensions between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip are on the rise. Over the last few days, dozens of rockets and mortar shells have been fired into Israel, injuring two over the weekend and one Wednesday morning, prompting Israeli retaliation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed decisive action against Gaza’s militants. “No state would tolerate ongoing rocket fire on its cities and its citizens, and the state of Israel obviously will not tolerate it,” Netanyahu told parliament. Moreover, Israeli Home Front Minister Matan Vilnai predicted that a military confrontation with Hamas was “only a matter of time…. We are taking all appropriate steps in this direction,” Vilnai told Army Radio.