US condemns 'deplorable' bombing of Bat Yam bus

Hamas, Islamic Jihad welcome bombing, but don't claim responsibility; security forces launch manhunt for suspects.

Bat Yam bus bombing 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Bat Yam bus bombing 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Bat Yam bus bombing, December 22, 2013 Photo: ReutersBat Yam bus bombing, December 22, 2013 Photo: Reuters
WASHINGTON -- The United States condemned the bombing of a Bat Yam bus on Sunday, calling the terrorist plot "deplorable."
"We strongly condemn the bombing of a bus near Tel Aviv today," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Sunday night. "Our thoughts are with those affected and with the Israeli people at this time."
The bus was occupied by twelve people when a passenger identified a suspicious package. It contained a pressure cooker, which exploded moments after the bus driver evacuated the vehicle.
"Violent acts targeting civilians are deplorable," Psaki added. "We reaffirm our unshakable bond with Israel and our solidarity with the Israeli people."
The near-fatal terrorist attempt was the first targeting a bus or a bus station since November 2012.
Hamas "welcomed" the bombing shortly after the attack, calling it a "response to the crimes of the occupation." But the Palestinian group did not claim responsibility for the attempted terrorist attack.
Islamic Jihad also warned the bombing "could usher the resumption of suicide attacks."
Ground and air searches by police units, as well as roadblocks to scan passing vehicles, have been mobilized to locate those responsible for the attack.