Terror suspects arrested in connection with bombing public bus in Israel

Friday, November 23, 2012

Several people have been arrested in connection with the bombing of a public bus on Shaul Hamelech Street in Tel Aviv, Israel.

A bomb exploded on a bus at approximately noon on Wednesday, near Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) headquarters. At least 28 people were injured in the bombing. The bus was transporting passengers on the Dan Number 142 line. Authorities are still investigating the bombing. Israeli police said they don't know if the bomb was left on the bus by a departing passenger or thrown by someone outside.

"Person who planted bomb in Tel Aviv bus yesterday-found and arrested. He is an Arab-Israeli from Taybe & was a member of Hamas", said Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson for the IDF, in a statement posted to her Twitter account.

Most of the suspects were from the Israeli town of Beit Lahia. One was a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship. The suspects were allegedly part of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Reports say most have admitted to their involvement in the bombing. Earlier reports, attributed to Israeli intelligence officials, suggested the bombing was the "act of [a] lone operator" and that the individual had no ties to a terrorist organization.

According to the driver of the bus, Nachum Herzi, no passengers prior to the explosion seemed suspicious. Herzi recalled there were not many people on the bus and said "I felt the explosion ... smoke was everywhere, you couldn't see a thing." After the explosion Herzi said he drove the bus for a few more meters until he was able to pull over and help passengers.

Although no group claimed responsibility for the bombing, Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, "blessed" to the bombing when saying, "[We see] it as a natural response to the Israeli massacres...in Gaza. Palestinian factions will resort to all means in order to protect our Palestinian civilians in the absence of a world effort to stop the Israeli aggression."

This is the first such bombing to occur in Tel Aviv since April 2006 when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a restaurant near the bus station in the center of the city. Eleven people were killed and 68 were injured. In that attack, Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. The suicide bombing was the first since Hamas took over the government of Palestine a few weeks earlier.