Disaster was narrowly averted in Bat Yam on Sunday, when a bomb detonated in the
back of a bus in the city, shortly after over a dozen passengers were evacuated
after it was spotted.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad “welcomed” the terror
attack, but did not claim responsibility for the bombing, Palestinian news
agency Ma’an reported.
In an official press release issued by Hamas
spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, the organization welcomed the attack, that was a
“response to the crimes of the occupation.”
An Islamic Jihad source said
he hoped this attack “could usher the resumption of suicide attacks.”
attack was “a sign that the Palestinian people no longer accept that Israeli
attacks [against the Palestinians] continue without any real response,” the
source told Ma’an.
It was the resistance’s duty to protect the
Palestinian people from “Israel’s crimes, US support for the occupation and Arab
impotence,” that were continuing under the cover of peace talks, he
Police are saying that while they are not yet sure if the motive
was criminal or nationalistic, they are suspecting a terror attack.
in many past bombings in Israel, tragedy was prevented by the actions of
everyday citizens, who helped clear other passengers away from the
Passenger David Pappo described, in a shaky voice on Sunday
afternoon, how he was on the bus when he heard a young boy mention a bag sitting
near him unattended.
Pappo said he alerted the bus driver, who asked
whose bag it was, but received no answer.
Pappo said he then opened the
bag – which he described as large and black, with two handles – and found what
he said looked like a pressure cooker with a red wire coming out of it. He said
he started telling people to get off the bus, and when the driver stopped people
started filing off.
Pappo said the bus driver appeared scared, and he
told him “don’t worry, God is with us.”
He added “so this was my luck
today, fine. What’s the saying, a man can earn his next life with one good
Like Pappo, the driver, Michael Yuger, refused to see his actions as
extraordinary. He said he simply asked passengers if the bag belonged to anyone,
arrived at a bus stop and told everyone to get off the bus.
Bozna, head of the Ayalon subdistrict of the Israel Police, said that at 2:20
p.m. police received a call about a bomb on a bus in Bat Yam.
that two minutes later, a pair of patrol officers arrived. They started helping
people get off the bus and away from the scene, but within minutes there was a
powerful blast. Bozna said that a patrolwoman was lightly wounded in the blast,
with light injuries to her ears caused by the sound of the
Bozna, as well as Bat Yam Mayor Shalom Lahyani, called on the
public to increase their awareness on all buses, malls, trains and all other
places where there are crowds.
Bozna, the former head of the police’s
bomb squad unit, said that the bomb was medium-sized, but would not reveal
further details about the make-up of the device.
Most of the windows were
blown out of the bus, but it wasn’t a charred skeleton like in more powerful
blasts of Israel’s past.
He added that police had not received any prior
warning that security officials were expecting a terror attack in the
In wake of the bus blast, Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino
ordered an increase in police presence in public places across the country. He
called for public to increase awareness and notify the police of any suspicious
“The incident in Bat Yam shows the threat of terror is always
in the background, and in particular, in times like now, when there is an
attempt to advance the peace process,” Danino said.
The blast was the
first terrorist bombing in Israel since the November 21, 2012 bus bomb in Tel
Aviv during the IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip. That blast
left dozens of people wounded, including three seriously.