At least 21 people were injured in a bomb blast on a public bus in Tel Aviv, prompting panic in Israel’s second-largest city and raising questions about the effectiveness of cease-fire talks underway between Israel and Hamas.
The attack took place around noon on a bus on a busy downtown street, reports The Los Angeles Times. Witnesses reported seeing a man running toward the bus, throwing a bag inside, and then running away.
Israeli police have launched a massive search for the suspect and also raised security levels nationwide, fearing the possibility of additional attacks.
It’s not clear if the attack in Tel Aviv is related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, but Palestinians in the Gaza Strip cheered and celebrated when the heard the news of the blast. Bank employee Hesham Akram, 27, stated:
“Israel has refused the truce and they want to escalate the violence, so we will have to escalate as well. This way, Israelis will feel more insecure so they will give in to our demands for freedom.”
The BBC notes that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman called the explosion a “terrorist attack” on his Twitter account.
Emergency services report that at least three people are in serious condition following the blast, though there were no reported casualties. The bus was reportedly passing Tel Aviv’s military headquarters at the time of the blast.
Hamas has not taken responsibility for the attack, but a spokesman for the militant group, Sami Abu Zuhri, stated, “Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a natural response to the Israeli massacres … in Gaza.”