A Tel Aviv bus was blown up this morning in a terror attack that injured 21, 3 of them seriously. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack took place at around noon Israel time, near the Kirya base. According to Israeli paper Ynet, “It is suspected there may be a second device.”
The blast, which was the first of its kind in about six years, comes as Israel continues its efforts to cripple Gaza’s terror infrastructure and capacity to fire rockets, in operation “Pillar of Defense.”
The current conflict between Israel and Gaza began eight days ago when Hamas, which rules Gaza, began firing rockets into civilian areas of southern Israel. Israel responded by killing senior Hamas military wing commander Ahmed Jabari in an airstrike. The rocket attacks and counter-air strikes have continued.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon are meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to push for a truce between Israel and Hamas. But on the ground the rockets keep flying.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the terror attack in Tel Aviv and said the world will not let terrorists dictate our agenda. He added that the “shocking” violence illustrates the immediate need to end violence and reach a ceasefire.
Hague urged “all concerned parties” to keep doing all they can to support the Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is in a battle to save lives.
“Now if there is a possibility of achieving a long-term 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,” he said.
Clinton said America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering.
“That is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza,” she said.
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren told CBN News what Israel’s expectations are, saying the Hamas rockets must stop.
“There’s no question about de-escalation, but the de-escalation has to begin with Hamas,” Oren said. “First of all, stop the firing. Stop the rockets. Then we will discuss the possibility of a long-term solution.”
“A long-term solution will mean that there will be no more smuggling of Iranian rockets into the Gaza Strip,” he continued. “And that the terrorists will not be able to open fire every month or every week at Israel and paralyze half the country when they want to.”
But following Clinton’s Jerusalem visit there were no signs of a ceasefire. A rocket from Gaza crashed into an apartment building in Rishon Lezion, the most serious rocket attack in the Tel Aviv area since the operation began Tuesday evening.
“All the glasses were there so we understood something happened nearby,” said rocket attack victim Yael Geraci. “I didn’t think that it’s in our building.”
Geraci’s family, who lives in the apartment, miraculously survived unharmed because when they heard the alarm, they went to their security room.
“Thank God that we are okay,” he said. “That’s the important thing.”
Palestinians say 120 people have been killed so far in Gaza and hundreds of others are wounded while Hamas executed six collaborators. Israel said it is going out of its way to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces released a video showing an aborted bombing mission because civilians were in the area. They’ve also dropped leaflets and sent text messages to Gaza residents warning them of imminent strikes and telling them to clear the area.
For now the battle rages.
Christian author and missionary John Huckins lamented this week over the “stereotyping, racism and violent response being disseminated by Christians as they watch the news unfold and enter the discussion.”
Having worked through The Global Immersion Project to bring reconciliation to Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Middle East, Huckins writes for Relevant magazine that Christians should grieve the lives lost amid the conflict and take the time to become informed before “jumping to words or actions that may do more harm than good.”
Palestinian members of the Civil Defense help a survivor after he was pulled out from under the rubble of his destroyed house after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on Nov. 18, 2012.
Among his many suggestions for how Christians should respond to the Middle East crisis, Huckins reminds believers to pray.
“Pray for the healing of others, from all nations and religions. Pray for peace in places of conflict. Seek forgiveness for our blind prejudice. Ask for courage for those who promote Kingdom values. Pray for new friendships to be cultivated among former enemies. Pray for your enemies,” he writes.
In South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) released a statement today “condemning with strongest terms the barbarity of the Israeli Defence Force’s bombardment of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.” and “the murder of Hamas Military Chief, Ahmad Jabari, and the collective punishment of the citizens of Gaza is an outrage bordering on fascist aggression”.
In the statement released by Deputy Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ibrahim, the ANC calls on the West to “impress upon Israel that peace in the Middle East Region depends on their behaviour and attitude towards international law. We urge Israel to stop the bombing immediately and resume negotiations with the Palestine government”.
Earlier this week the African Christian Democratic Party condemned “terror attacks” by Hamas on Israel and noted that Israel had shown great restraint in the face of the aggression but could not be expected to “stand by passively and allow recurring attacks on its citizens”.