Monday, April 18, 2016

18-Apr-16: A Jerusalem bus has exploded

Channel 2 Israel
An explosion around 5:50 pm this afternoon, Monday, on Moshe Baram Street in southern Jerusalem has caused damage to a moving bus, while a second bus is aflame, along with two other non-bus vehicles.

The scene is already busy with rescue workers, security people, reporters and many others. It's a sight that Jerusalemites know too well, but there's real caution here about reaching conclusions. Some media sources, sad to say, reached far too quickly for extravagant descriptions and ominous conclusions (this one for instance, reporting from London on 20 fatalities).

It's certainly an explosion and no doubt of the damage and the injuries but is this a terrorist act? The first reports from Israel Police in Jerusalem said yes.

Now (6:15 pm) the matter seems to be unclear. We're not rushing to judgment. But no one here wants to confront a new reality that involves exploding buses and jihad-minded bombers... unless the reality is proven beyond doubt. We're not there at this point, though Jerusalem's mayor, Nir Barkat, was reported [here] in the past hour saying
the blast came from a small explosive device on the back of the bus, but urged people to remain calm and allow police to complete their investigation.
All of the injured - currently 15 of them, with 2 considered to be in serious condition - have already been evacuated to hospital during the half hour that has passed since the explosion, most to Shaarei Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah Ein Karem hospital. There are still only sketchy details of the extent of the injuries.

UPDATE 8:00 pm Monday: Israel Police have now come down on the side of declaring the bus explosion a terror attack. From Times of Israel:
Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy told media the blast was caused by an explosive device placed on the bus, but it was unclear how the bomb got there and if the attack was an attempted suicide bombing. “When a bomb explodes on a bus it is a terror attack,” he said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.
For the record, other aspects of the initial report (we won't go into detail at this stage) are wrong. This is all quite a serious development. 

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