Security forces did not receive any intelligence regarding the possibility of a looming terror attack – not on public transportation or anywhere. Lacking any advance warning, a specific and detailed investigation now needs to be conducted, with small bits of intelligence information being cross-checked in a bid to find the perpetrators.
Despite the lack of prior warning, it is impossible to ignore the fact that in recent months there has been a surge in anti-Israel incitement and nationalistic sentiment among Palestinians in the West Bank, which have already resulted in the deaths of Israelis. The number of violent clashes between the IDF and Palestinians has also been on the rise in recent months, resulting in preventive fire on the part of the IDF.
A senior security official told Ynet that "the Palestinian public is not interested in a third intifada and a deterioration of the security situation," but we must not forget that Hamas is also trying to put terror attacks into motion using West Bank operatives to compensate for the restrain it has shown and lack of terror attacks it has launched from Gaza. Some of these West Bank based activities are being led by released Palestinians prisoners and even by some still serving time in jail. Islamic Jihad as well as other radical jihadists and Salafist groups have also been growing increasingly active in the West Bank.
Feeding desire for vengeance
As a result of these activities and the Shin Bet and the IDF's terror prevention operations some 16 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza during the last year. Only this week four Palestinians were killed, two in the West Bank and two in Gaza. These numbers feed the desire for vengeance among terrorists and could be the driving force behind Sunday's bus bombing.
The speed with which Hamas and other Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist groups responded to the incident strengthens suspicions according to which they had an either direct or indirect hand in the bombing.
Nonetheless, we should remember that it is also possible the attack is not nationalistically motivated. The decision to treat the incident as a terror attack stems from the manner and style in which the attack was undertaken. An explosive device placed on a bus is intended to indiscriminately harm the largest amount of people possible. This type of attack is rarely the form of a criminally motivated attack, which usually targets specific individuals or groups in an attempt to exact revenge or send a message.
Luckily, the quick evacuation of bus travelers and the driver prevented massive loss of life. The blast was small, but if the bus had been full the shock could have caused serious damage to bus-riders, including deafening them and causing internal bleeding or worse.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the bus driver and passengers who opened the bag and found it crawling with wires acted carelessly and irresponsibly.
Just opening the bag could have detonated the explosive. In these cases, the right course of action is to report the existence of the abandoned bag, evacuate the scene as fast as possible and then wait for the police to arrive.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report