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Fatal blast,

and Israel again confronts

spectre of bus terrorism

Conal Urquhart Ewen Macaskill

March 25, 2011

Bomb blasts Jerusalem bus station

One woman is dead and more than 20 people are injured after a bomb struck a crowded bus stop in central Jerusalem.

THE Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to react ”aggressively” after a suitcase bomb exploded in Jerusalem, killing a 60-year-old woman and injuring at least 30 people, three of them seriously.

The bombing, the first in the city for almost seven years, follows several days of rising tension along the Gaza Strip border. It will take Jerusalemites and the residents of other Israeli cities back to the time when the Palestinians’ second intifada was at its height between 2001 and 2004, and Israeli buses were regularly targeted by suicide bombers. Simply boarding a bus felt like a game of Russian roulette, and drivers and passengers in cars waited nervously at traffic lights if a bus was sitting in the next lane.

There has not been a bombing in Jerusalem since 2004, and there have been only a handful of suicide bombings in other Israeli cities in the past five years.

Reports soon after the explosion suggested it was not the work of a suicide bomber but rather the detonation of a package left at the city’s central terminus in West Jerusalem.

It was assumed Palestinian militants were behind the attack, with the Israeli military swiftly labelling it a terrorist operation. No one claimed responsibility.

”Israel will act aggressively, responsibly and wisely to preserve the quiet and security that prevailed here over the past two years,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Earlier he told MPs: ”It could be that this matter will entail exchanges of blows, and it may take a certain period of time, but we are very determined to strike at the terrorist elements and deny them the means of attacking our citizens.”

Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, said a series of Israeli air strikes yesterday hit its training facilities and smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border. It reported no casualties.

The Jerusalem bombing was swiftly condemned by the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, who said the ”terrorist operation” damaged the Palestinian cause and contradicted ”our people’s legitimate endeavour to gain its freedom by peaceful means”.

There has been relative calm in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the past few years

but in the past week a barrage of missiles has been fired into Israel from Gaza, followed by retaliatory air strikes and tank shelling by the Israeli military. At least 10 Palestinians have been killed, including two children.

Guardian News & Media   

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