At least 21 people were injured Monday in a terrorist bus explosion in Jerusalem.
The bombing occurred in the early evening hours in Israel. Police initially did not confirm the explosion as a terror-related incident. Following an investigation, Jerusalem Police Chief Yoram Levy told the media, “There is no doubt that this is a terror attack.” On Twitter, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld stated: “Update to explosion on bus in Jerusalem. Police bomb disposal experts confirm explosive device went off on bus that caused 21 injuries.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday to “settle the score” with those responsible for the attack.
Bus number 12 was driving through the Talpiot neighborhood, located in the southern end of the capital, when it exploded. The blast occurred on the busy Moshe Baram street, which divides Talpiot from the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa. An eyewitness told Israel’s Channel 2 that he heard an explosion before the fire. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told the news station the explosion was caused by a small device near the back of the bus and called on the public to remain calm. Later reports indicate a badly burned victim is reportedly the terrorist, who was holding the bomb on his lap.
According to Magen David Adom paramedics, at least 15 people were wounded, among them one in serious condition, seven in moderate condition and seven in light condition. Police said that the bus was empty at the time of the explosion and the injured were on a nearby bus, which also caught fire. The victims were evacuated to nearby Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Ze’ev Sofer, the director of the ambucycle division of paramedic organization United Hatzalah, was among the first responders at the scene of the bus explosion in Jerusalem. “When I arrived at the scene I encountered numerous injured individuals outside of the two buses that were on fire. Due to initial reports of mass casualties, United Hatzalah volunteers arrived at the scene with increased numbers. We treated the injured for burns and other injuries. Among them were two individuals in moderate to serious condition. Damage was caused to vehicles near the buses as well,” he said.
While any terrorist group has yet to claim responsibility for the incident, the explosion occurred a few hours after Israel announced it had uncovered and “neutralized” a terror tunnel from Gaza into Israel. Hamas, who denied responsibility, praised the bus bombing in a statement: “Hamas blesses the Jerusalem operation, and considers it a natural reaction to Israeli crimes, especially field executions and the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Danny Ayalon, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., denounced the terror attack and called on the international community to do the same. “Terror is terror is terror. I urge the international community to immediately condemn the Jerusalem bus bombing,” he wrote on Twitter.
By Lea Speyer/Algemeiner