Jerusalem bombing comes amid rising Israel-Gaza violence

Jerusalem hadn't seen a bombing in years until a package exploded outside the city's central bus station today, wounding more than 20.

Bernat Armangue/AP
Two buses damaged in an explosion (r.) are seen in this general view in Jerusalem on Wednesday, March 23. A bomb exploded near a crowded bus, wounding passengers in what appeared to be the first militant attack in the city in several years.

The first Jerusalem bombing in years rocked a bus stop in the city center today, wounding more than 20. The explosion comes amid rising Israeli-Palestinian violence and speculation that another war with the Islamist militant group Hamas is inevitable.

One Jerusalem resident who heard the explosion said it had been so long since the last attack that the bombing sounded like a crash from a nearby construction site.

The force of the bomb, which authorities said had been hidden in a telephone booth, damaged the windows of a municipal bus near the bus stop – located just opposite Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station. Israeli police forces with bomb-sniffing dogs combed the area for more explosives as hundreds poured out of the bus station.

Standing across the street from the site of the explosion, Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told reporters that a 1- to 2-kilogram (2.2- to 4.4-pound) explosive was concealed in a bag. The explosion left three victims in critical condition, medical officials said.

As the minister spoke, a group of Israelis shouted "Death to Arabs.’’

While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, it came just hours after the southern Israeli city of Beersheva was hit by two Katyusha missiles from Palestinian militants in Gaza – the first such attack since the Gaza war ended two years ago.

Though the Jerusalem bombing and rockets from Gaza occurred on two different fronts, there is a chance they may be linked. On Tuesday, in response to the killing of eight Gazans by Israeli fire – including four civilians – Hamas’ military wing promised revenge. Islamic Jihad claimed responsiblilty for the rocket attacks earlier today.

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