Terror in capital: A woman of about 60 was killed and dozens of people were wounded Wednesday afternoon after an explosive device was detonated in a phone booth near the Jerusalem Convention Center.
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Medical officials said 39 people were hurt in the blast, including three who were seriously hurt. Five other victims were moderately wounded and the rest sustained light injuries. Most victims are young, aged 15-30, said Shaare Zedek Medical Center Deputy Director, Ovadia Shemesh.
Authorities were able to confirm the fatality's identity only several hours after the attack. The woman did not carry any ID or wallet, and nobody arrived at the hospital to look for her. Earlier, medical officials estimated that the woman is a foreign resident who has no relatives in Israel. Authorities later confirmed the woman was a tourist.
Even after identifying the woman, police officials did not publish the name. The victim's identity is expected to be cleared for publication later on.
Bomb explodes at bus stop (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Magen David Adom rescue forces declared a mass casualty event and ambulances rushed to the scene after a loud exposion shook the area around 3 pm. MDA director Eli Bin said the victims had been standing at the bus stop or nearby when the bomb exploded.
The police said the blast was caused by an explosive device placed at a telephone booth near a bus stop. After the explosion, police officers were searching for additional devices while trying to clear residents from the scene, shouting that it could still be dangerous.
Nonetheless, crowds gathered at the scene of the attack and a group of young haredim attacked a British reporter at the site, chanting: "Anti-Semite." Others at the scene called for revenge, including Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari.
Minister Yishai wants retaliation
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told Ynet that the bomb weighed 1-2 kilos (roughly 2-4 pounds) and included steel pellets added to the device in order to maximize its damage.
"There was no previous intelligence information. The Jerusalem District police are always ready for these types of events, but there was no specific warning," he said. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said one of the wounded called the police to inform them of a suspicious package at the site of the blast, and then the explosion occurred.
He added that no intelligence warnings were received before the attack.
Bus hit by bomb (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who visited the scene of the attack, said retaliation was called for.
"The series of incidents from Itamar and until today without a doubt requires us to consider anti-terror operations. It will not be possible to refrain from launching an operation… No concrete decision has been made but we will weigh different options," he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency consultation session with senior officials in his office following the attack.
''Student running with legs on fire'
One attack victim, 29-year old Yair Zimerman, arrived at Shaare Zedek Hospital for tests and shared details of the blast with reporters.
"I was on bus route 75. The bus stopped at the station and there was a very loud blast. I told the driver to drive forward a little, because something had exploded. I am an MDA volunteer and immediately called the paramedics and told them," he said.
"I began treating people. There was one who couldn't be treated on the scene and another two in severe condition." Zimerman said.
Shlomo Steiner, who works at the Jerusalem central bus station, witnessed the explosion and told Ynet about the chaotic scene.
Rescue forces at scene (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"I heard a loud blast. I looked out the window and saw smoke rising up, and a yeshiva student running around with his legs on fire. People were trying to help him put out the fire." he said. "I saw people lying on the ground and then rescue forces started pouring in. They were at the scene within a few minutes, evacuating victims…it was all very scary."
Another witness, Yonatan Shakiba, drove by the scene of the attack as the blast shook the area.
"I left the car and saw a boy running towards me with shrapnel wounds all over his body. He was injured in his arms and legs. He sat down on the ground and then laid down. An ultra-Orthodox woman who was there helped him, and then a guy came over with a tourniquet," he said.
"It was chaos…I looked around and saw many victims and a lot of blood. Rescue forces were all over the area, searching, opening and closing doors. It takes us back to trying times," he said.
The Popular Resistance Committees, a Gaza terror group, lauded the attack and said it came in response to "Israel's crimes." The Islamic Jihad also lauded the bombing but did not claim responsibility for it. Group spokesman Abu-Ahmed said the attack is a "natural response to the enemy's crimes."
"It's a clear and powerful message to Israel that her crimes won't be able to break the resistance," he said.
The Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital opened a hotline following the attack at the following number: 1255122
Ronen Medzini, Omri Efraim, Attila Somfalvi, Aviel Magnezi, Yair Altman, Meital Yasur Bein-Or, Elior Levy and Aviad Glickman contributed to this report
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