The immediate conclusion is that the episode was a “terrorist” attack. One woman has been killed.
The usual response would be to agree that the attack was carried out by Islamic terrorists and it’s very uncomfortable for me not to jump to that conclusion.
However, past experience has shown that the government itself was responsible for 9/11, the London bombings, the Madrid bombings, and the Oklahoma bombing. Moreover, Matthew Ward has said that the CIA’s black ops unit was behind the Mumbai assaults and the Islamabad bombing of some years’ back.
At the same time, on the one hand, applying the principle of seeking who might benefit from such an act, it isn’t clear what “terrorist” group would stand to benefit from setting off a bomb in Israel given that the Arab nations of the region are either protesting dictatorships or defending themselves from protesters. What is to be gained from bombing Israel?
Watching a coalition put a cordon around Libya, why would any other Arab nation risk having that operation extended to its own territory?
On the other hand, it is clear that MOSSAD and the Government of Israel do stand to benefit from an alleged terrorist incident. A fresh “reminder” of “Islamic” terrorism would serve the State of Israel well, evoking sympathy from the rest of the world and justifying further violence against the Palestinians. (Five hours later the Israeli Government has already decided that Palestinians were the authors of the attack. To me it all seems too cut-and-dried.)
That being the case, I’m not at this time concluding that the bombing was a terrorist attack. In fact, I’m not sure exactly what proof would be required for me to reach that conclusion. The same party that caused the act could very well have manufactured the evidence supporting their cover story. I consider myself much harder to convince today than I was even a year ago.
It’s sad that this is the state of affairs in the world, but sooner or later I think we have to acknowledge the more uncomfortable probabilities.
My condolences go out to everyone harmed in the explosion.
Here is the BBC’s coverage of the event:
23 March 2011 Last updated at 13:34 ET
Deadly bombing targets Jerusalem bus stop
Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the BBC Israeli police are looking for one suspect
One person has died and more than 30 others are injured after a bomb blast at a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.
The bomb had been left in a bag by the side of the road near the central bus station, police said.
Dozens of ambulances converged on the scene near the entrance to the city, and police sealed off the area.
Jerusalem suffered a spate of bus bombings between 2000 and 2004 but attacks had stopped in recent years.
Witnesses said the force of the blast – just after 1500 local time (1300 GMT) – shook buildings over a wide area.
It is believed the bomb exploded as a bus pulled up at the stop, but it is not clear if passengers on the bus were among the casualties.
At the scene
There is a scene of utter chaos around here – a lot of armed police, a lot of onlookers and a lot of people very concerned, because there has not been anything like this in central Jerusalem for many years.
The last time there was a bus bombing in Jerusalem was back in 2004. But the city has been relatively quiet since then, so this will awaken many bad memories for many people. Security on buses in Jerusalem and across Israel has been improved in recent years because they were seen as an easy target for suicide bombers.
Earlier today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu anticipated more trouble between militants in Gaza and Israeli troops. But we haven’t seen anything like this in this part of the country for a long time. Nobody really expected any trouble in Jerusalem or the West Bank.
Israeli officials initially said no-one had been killed in the blast but later confirmed that a woman had died from her injuries.
A correspondent for AFP news agency at the scene said people were lying on the ground covered in blood and many cars and buses had shattered windows.
“(We believe) the device weighed about 1-2kg (2-4lb),” Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told Israel’s Channel 2 television.
“It exploded in a small suitcase on the sidewalk next to the bus stop.”
Motti Bukchin, a volunteer with the Israeli emergency service Zaka, said he and his colleagues were in a meeting nearby when they heard the blast.
“When we arrived at the site of the attack we saw two women lying in huge pools of blood on the pavement. We began resuscitation immediately and were soon joined by other medical personnel. The two women were evacuated to hospital in serious to critical condition,” he said.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the BBC they were searching for a suspect and a vehicle believed to have been used in planting the bomb.
Medics said many of the injured had shrapnel wounds.
Three are seriously injured and five are in “a moderate condition, while the rest are less badly hurt”, Uri Shacham, a senior paramedic told reporters.
After the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met defence and security officials, delaying by a few hours a scheduled trip to Moscow where he is due to hold talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Jerusalem was hit by a series of bombings – mostly targeting buses and restaurants – during the second Palestinian uprising that began in 2000. However the attacks have stopped in recent years. Jerusalem last experienced a bus bombing in 2004.
The latest attacks comes amid heightened tension in the Gaza Strip.
The BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza says none of the militant factions there has said it was involved in the Jerusalem attack.
But an Islamic Jihad leader said a Palestinian attack would be a “natural response” to this week’s Israeli strikes in Gaza.
Previous Jerusalem attacks
- July 2008: Three killed and more than 40 injured in bulldozer attack on Jaffa Street
- March 2008: Eight students killed when gunman opens fire at religious school in west of city
- February 2004: Eight killed and dozens hurt in suicide blast on bus, West Jerusalem
- January 2004: At least 10 killed in suicide bombing on bus in West Jerusalem
- Aug 2003: 20 people, including children, killed in suicide bus blast in ultra-Orthodox area of Shmuel Hanavi
On Wednesday, Israeli warplanes launched fresh air strikes east of Gaza City, after Palestinian militants fired two rockets into southern Israel.
Islamic Jihad said it carried out the rocket attacks in reprisal for the killing of eight Palestinians near Gaza City on Tuesday. Four of those killed were members of one family and two of them were children.
Hamas government spokesman Taher Nono has refused to comment on the Jerusalem explosion.
However, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the bombing, calling it “a terrorist attack”.
US President Barack Obama condemned the Jerusalem attack “as well as the rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in recent days”.
“We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties,” he said.
Condemnation also came from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who said “such attacks are unacceptable”.
The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, called on the public to be alert but to “return to regular routines as quickly as possible”.
“When terror attempts to disrupt our way of life, the best solution is to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Events in Jerusalem will not be cancelled and Jerusalem will not stop running,” he said.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague described the attack as “shocking and deeply distressing”.