By Rami Amichai
TEL AVIV Nov 21 A bomb exploded on a bus in
central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, wounding at least 10 people in
what officials said was a terrorist attack that could complicate
efforts to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The blast shattered windows on the bus, which was driving
along a tree-lined street next to Israel's huge defence ministry
complex. Israel's ambulance service said three of the wounded
were in a severe condition.
"This was a terrorist attack," said Ofir Gendelman, a
spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a message on Twitter, he said police were combing the
area for the person who planted the device, confirming reports
that it was not a suicide attack. Israeli media said a man had
The bombing happened on the eighth day of an Israeli
offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and celebratory
gunfire rang out across the Palestinian enclave when local radio
stations reported news of the explosion.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri praised the bombing, but
stopped short of claiming responsibility.
"Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a
natural response to the Israeli massacres...in Gaza," he told
Reuters. "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."
Sweet cakes were handed out in celebration in Gaza's main
hospital, which has been inundated with wounded from the
round-the-clock Israeli bombing and shelling.
The last time a bomb blast hit Israel's commercial capital
was in April 2006, when a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 11
people at a sandwich stand near the old central bus station.
Hamas militants have fired at least four rockets at the
laid-back Mediterranean metropolis over the past week, but none
of them have scored direct hits or caused any casualties.
Ambulances converged on the bus on Wednesday, with
television showing smoke rising from the broken windows. The
vehicle was not torn apart in the explosion, suggesting it might
have been a relatively small bomb.
"We have no indications it was a suicide bomber. But it was
an attack," Tel Aviv police chief Yoram Ohayon told Channel 2
The attack happened as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton was in Israel trying to calm tensions over Gaza. She was
due to fly to Cairo later in the day for talks with President
Mohamed Mursi, who is spearheading ceasefire negotiations.