The Obama administration decried the terrorist attack that struck a busy Tel Aviv district just after Hamas was claiming a ceasefire was close and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in the region to conduct talks.
A bomb went off on a bus around noon Israeli time, reportedly left by a man who then disembarked. Twenty-one people were injured, the Israeli foreign ministry said, with three of those in “moderate to serious condition.”
“The United States strongly condemns this terrorist attack and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the people of Israel,” Clinton said in a statement.
“As I arrive in Cairo, I am closely monitoring reports from Tel Aviv, and we will stay in close contact with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s team. The United States stands ready to provide any assistance that Israel requires,” she said.
Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack, but Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum lauded the homicidal action to the Associated Press: “We consider it a natural response to the occupation crimes and the ongoing massacres against civilians in the Gaza Strip.”
The White House issued a statement shortly after the bombing condemning the attack.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those injured, and with the people of Israel. These attacks against innocent Israeli civilians are outrageous,” said the statement from the office of the press secretary. “The United States will stand with our Israeli allies, and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack. The United States reaffirms our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people.”
Clinton and Netanyahu appeared together to make statements as Clinton arrived yesterday in Jerusalem.
“Now if there is a possibility of achieving solution to this problem through diplomatic means, we prefer that, but if not, I’m sure you understand that Israel will have to take whatever action is necessary to defend its people,” the prime minister said. “This is something that I don’t have to explain to Americans.”