Palestinian terror groups praised Sunday’s attempt at a bus bombing near Tel Aviv, but stopped short of taking responsibility for the blast.
Nobody was injured in the Bat Yam bombing, after an alert passenger noticed a suitcase with wires and told the driver, who evacuated the bus minutes before it exploded.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad both praised the bombing.
“We welcome the operation in Tel Aviv,” Hamas spokesperson Moshir al-Masri said in a message broadcast on Al Aqsa TV, the faction’s official station. “It comes as a response to all the actions the Zionists perpetrate daily.”
“The Jews need to pay a price — the Palestinians won’t stand by and not acknowledge [the Israeli actions]. The incident proves that opposition can reach deep into the Zionist territory,” he continued.
Masri also said that the attack came as a direct response to last week’s arrests and killings of Palestinians in the West Bank cities of Qalqilya and Jenin. A Hamas member was killed in an IDF Special Forces operation in Jenin last Wednesday in the course of an arrest. Less than 24 hours later, a Palestinian was killed in a firefight in Qalqilya under similar circumstances.
“This is the appropriate way to deal with Israel,” Ahmed al-Mudallal, a senior Islamic Jihad member, said in an interview on Al Aqsa TV. Al-Mudallal also threatened that the Palestinians are “on the verge” of resuming attacks against the “Zionist enemy.”
Officials said Sunday afternoon that the bomb had the hallmarks of a terror attack; police were searching for a suspect or suspects who may have planted it in the seaside city. Police set up roadblocks around the country and were searching cars heading into the West Bank.
In his address, Masri slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
“He’s trying to obliterate the nation’s suffering with negotiations,” Masri said of Abbas. “The way to stop the occupation in the settlements and Jerusalem, and claim our land, is not through negotiations but rather by opposition, force, and sacrifice. That’s the only way.”
Masri’s comments came days after reports emerged of an imminent Fatah-Hamas reconciliation and the subsequent forging of a national unity government between the two rival factions.
There was no public comment on the bombing from Fatah or the group’s armed winged, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.