Analysis: The race against time to find the bombers

No prior warning was received ahead of Bat Yam bus bombing, meaning that an intensive intelligence effort will now be under way to get hold of leads.

December 22, 2013 21:15
1 minute read.
Police bomb experts at the scene of the attempt terrorist attack in Bat Yam, December 22, 2013.

Bat Yam bus bombing 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)

The bomb that tore through an empty bus in Bat Yam on Sunday fortunately failed to hurt anyone, but security forces are now in a race against time to track down the bombers before they attempt to strike again.

With the exception of the November 2012 Tel Aviv bus bombing, which, like Sunday’s attack, involved a device left on a bus rather than a suicide bomber, Israel has grown accustomed to the absence of Palestinian terrorist atrocities on buses and cafes.

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Israelis have gladly put the bad old days of the second intifada and its many Palestinian bomb and gun attacks against unarmed Israeli civilians behind them.

But behind the scenes, the IDF, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and the Israel Police have been working tirelessly to ensure that the quiet remains in place.

Nightly arrests of members of Palestinian terror cells in the territories, arms seizures, and first-class intelligence-gathering have helped keep the threat at bay.

Yet no shield is foolproof.

Security sources on Sunday confirmed that no prior warning was received ahead of the Bat Yam bus bombing, meaning that an intensive intelligence effort will now be under way to get hold of leads.

Ground and air searches by police units, as well as roadblocks to scan passing vehicles, have been mobilized.

A look back to the 2012 bus bombing, which wounded 26 passengers, indicates that the chances of the attacker acting alone are slim to none.

That investigation revealed that the bomber behind last year’s attack, Muhammed Nasser Mfajra, 19, who detonated the explosive remotely, is a Palestinian from Beit Likya who received Israeli citizenship via the Family Unification Law. He was part of a three-man terror cell, consisting of Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank, who systematically collected intelligence, produced the bomb and recruited Mfajra for the attack.

At no time have Hamas and Islamic Jihad stopped trying to pull off attacks in the heart of Israel.

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