The package, consisting of an alarm clock, wires, and gas balloon, was apparently placed by anti-disengagement protesters. It was discovered at around 7:30 p.m.
Security at the central bus station is one of the most extensive operations in the country. Passengers must pass through metal detectors, bags go through airport-style x-ray machines, and every passenger is frisked.
Following Monday’s incident, police and terminal security agents must investigate how activists managed to get the fake bomb into the station.
Jerusalem police officials blasted the fake bomb, after dozens of officers rushed to the scene to maintain order as thousands of people filed out of the station.
Jerusalem Police Chief Ilan Franco said the incident marks an escalation in right-wing anti-pullout protest.
“I hope the escalation ends here. I call on the perpetrators to stop it now,” he said.
Franco said the act is typical of right-wing pullout objectors, adding that many of them have been arrested in the past.
“There is a recurring method of operation here,” he said. “This is a serious incident and must be treated as such. One of the main questions we must ask ourselves is how the (fake bomb) was brought into the station.”
Two American tourists were forced to wait an hour before they were able to board the bus to Eilat.
“It is crazy to do such a thing; it sounds like something children, not adults, would do,” one of them said. “We came here to see the country, to better understand the conflict, we did not come here to get stuck in a (bus) station for two hours.”
Central bus station employee Shimi said, “It worries me that people were able to smuggle a gas tank into the station.”
“The police will know how to deal with it. It’s a part of life here,” he said.
Interior Minister Ophir Paz-Pines said, “Those who had placed the bomb have crossed the line between legitimate protest and terror.”
“Those who have no qualms about placing fake bombs may eventually turn to murderous ones,” he said.
Minister Matan Vilnai harshly condemned the incident, saying protesters had crossed red lines.
“This was a very serious incident, meant to use our enemy’s tactics to frighten innocent people and to disrupt police activities.
“The line between a fake bomb and a real one is very thin. The line that was crossed tonight should raise a red light throughout Israel. We must find the criminals that carried out this stunt and bring them to justice.
Vilnai also criticized right-wing representatives, saying they had created fertile ground for such an act by turning a “blind eye” to extreme forms of protest.
“Wake up, before its too late,” he warned.
The event was not the first of its kind in the capital. In May two fake bombs were found at bus stops on major thoroughfares, saying “disengagement will blow up in our faces,” “Jews don’t expel Jews,” and warning the incident was only the beginning of a “tough struggle.”