Fury and shock in Jerusalem as bomb attack shatters seven years of peace

Jerusalemites reacted with a mixture of anger and resignation after a bomb exploded at a crowded bus stop yesterday afternoon, killing one Israeli, in a grim reminder of the days of the Second Intifada.

The blast, the first of its kind in Jerusalem for seven years, tore a hole in the side of a bus, killing a 59-year-old woman and injuring more than 30, some critically, as they waited to board.

Within moments of the explosion, ambulances and police, their sirens wailing, were racing to the scene, where shattered glass and debris were strewn over blood-stained pavements. Medics treated dozens for blast injuries, including shrapnel and glass wounds.

"It was very hard [today], even though we know how to treat people like this," said Yuval Yirmiahu, a paramedic. "There was a lot of pressure, people were yelling, there was a smell of smoke and burning."

Police said the small bomb had been concealed in a shopping bag on the pavement next to the bus stop, and said it weighed 1-2kg. As of last night, nobody had claimed responsibility, but the authorities blamed Palestinian militants and vowed retaliation.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister promised retaliation. "We will react aggressively, responsibly and wisely" to attacks, he said.

The bombing comes amid Palestinian frustration over stagnated peace talks and a ratcheting up of tensions between Israel and Palestinian militants on the Gaza border, which many fear could lead to another conflict.

For many, it was a painful reminder of the years of the Second Intifada, the mass Palestinian uprising when bombings targeting mainly restaurants and buses were a regular occurrence in Jerusalem, as Israeli military operations killed thousands in the West Bank and Gaza. The last suicide bombing in Jerusalem was in February 2004.

One bypasser described the scene as he ran to help: "I saw a boy running towards me with shrapnel wounds all over his body. He was injured in his arms and legs. He sat down on the ground and then laid down," Yonatan Shakiba told Israeli news portal, Ynet.

"It was chaos... I looked around and saw many victims and a lot of blood. Rescue forces were all over the area, searching, opening and closing doors. It takes us back to trying times."

Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, a moderate who embarked on an ambitious programme two years ago to build a Palestinian state from the bottom up through peaceful means, immediately condemned the attack.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat said life would go on as normal and a marathon scheduled for Friday would take place. "We will show the terrorists we are not terrorised," he said.

The attack, which took place within reach of several religious communities, prompted extraordinary street scenes, with young ultraorthodox students shouting, "Death to the Arabs!" One religious student, wearing the traditional black garb, tried to distance himself, shouting: "Retaliation doesn't have to be indiscriminate, there's no reason just to bomb everything." But feelings ran high, with many urging retaliation. Only two weeks ago, intruders broke into the West Bank settlement of Itamar, stabbing to death five members of a Jewish family.

"There's no difference between Itamar, Ashkelon [an Israeli town near Gaza] and Jerusalem. We are all under attack," said Danny Danon, a politician from Israel's far right. "It's time to take action. We should take military action to fight terror, mainly within Gaza."

Tensions between Israel and Palestinian militants have risen in the past week after an Israeli air strike killed two members of Islamist movement Hamas, which had largely stuck to a ceasefire although there had been sporadic attacks by other Islamist factions.

Hamas, which governs Gaza, responded with mortar fire, prompting an even heavier response from Israel, which mistakenly killed several Palestinian civilians, including three members of one family, in shelling and air strikes on Tuesday. In retaliation, militants fired rockets at Beersheba, a southern city, yesterday as Israeli commentators warned that Israel could be drawn into another 'Cast Lead', the operation in Gaza two years ago that left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

"We will not tolerate the harming of Israeli citizens, not in the south and not in Jerusalem," Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak stated. "Hamas is responsible for the firing of rockets toward Beersheva today and this responsibility has a price."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

East15 Acting School: Finance and Contracts Officer

£20,781 to £24,057 per annum: East15 Acting School: The post involves general ...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager - Heli Ski Specialist

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: ACS qualified Domestic Gas Brea...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen