The Israeli newspaper Haaertz reports:
A bomb exploded Wednesday at a crowded bus stop outside the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, just opposite the central bus station. At least 25 people were wounded in the incident, four of them seriously.
All of the casualties have been evacuated to the Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem. The Magen David Adom emergency services said that there were no fatalities.
This is the first terrorist incident in Israel’s capital since 2008. An Israeli official authorized to speak on background only tells me, “The last bombing in Jerusalem was on Sept. 22, 2004, in French Hill. There were 2 casualties. Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades claimed responsibility for that attack.” More recently there were also several non-bombing, terrorist incidents that year, as Haaretz mentions:
In the first incident in July 2008, a bulldozer driver hit a bus, pedestrian and cars before he was neutralized by a soldier and civilian who mounted his vehicle and overtook him and then shot and killed him.
The second attack took place three weeks later. Twenty-four people were injured in the attack, one of which moderately to critically wounded. The terrorist hit five cars before he was shot by a civilian and an IDF military border guard officer that were at the scene of the attack.
Three months later, 19 people were injured — two of them critically and four moderately — when an East Jerusalem resident veered off the street onto the sidewalk near the Old City of Jerusalem and crashed into pedestrians. Most of the pedestrians were soldiers. An officer among the group open fire and killed the terrorist.
No U.S. official has made a statement as of 11:00 a.m., two hours after the attack. The State Department’s spokesman says that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may speak at a 2:00 p.m. press availability with the Moroccan foreign minister make a statement. Has anyone from the State Department spoken to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu? “Not yet,” e-mails the spokesman. The national security adviser’s spokesman did not return my request for similar information about the White House’s statements and contacts.
Moreover, the Jerusalem incident comes as Gaza terrorists hit Israeli cities:
The first rocket struck a street in the middle of a residential area in the city, damaging buildings including a synagogue. A piece of shrapnel penetrated a nearby third-floor apartment upon impact, lightly wounding one man. The second hit an open area in the city. A number of people were treated for shock in both incidents.
Gaza militants also fired seven mortar shells at the Eshkol region of the western Negev and another at the Sha’ar Hanegev area. The attacks on Wednesday morning came a mere hours after another Grad fired from Gaza exploded south of the coastal city of Ashdod. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for each of the attacks.
The Ashdod school district announced that classes would be canceled on Thursday and Friday in the wake of the rocket fire.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, residents tell me that there’s extensive live coverage in the Israeli media. An American in Jersualem e-mails me, “The city is glued to Army radio and TV. I just walked in the door, back from King David hotel — traffic is gridlocked and the entrance to the city is blocked.”
And the U.S. administration has nothing to say for now.
UPDATE 11:45 a.m.: House Majority Leader Rep.Eric Cantor (R-Vir.) is out with a statement. Israel is fortunate to have good friends in Congress.
UPDATE #2 11:56 a.m.: Now it is reported that one person died and 50 injured in the terrorist attack in central Jerusalem.