An explosion has hit a public bus in the heart of the city of Tel Aviv, wounding at least 20 people.
“A bomb exploded on a bus in central Tel Aviv. This was a terrorist attack. Most of the injured suffered only mild injuries,” said Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.
In a message on Twitter, he said police were combing the area for the person who planted the device, apparently confirming reports that it was not a suicide attack.
Television showed pictures of a smoke-filled bus, with its windows broken.
Gabriel Sassoon is an Australian who lives in Tel Aviv, and was just a couple of streets from where the blast happened.
“It’s pretty terrifying. Cell lines are pretty much down, it’s a wonder I got a line, and everyone’s trying to call to see if their family’s OK,” he said.
“You might be able to hear I’m a little shaken up, my voice is a bit shaky. It’s a bit terrifying to think that you might be next to a bomb that’s going to explode in your city.”
The bombing happened on the eighth day of an Israeli offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and threatened to complicate Egyptian-led efforts to secure a ceasefire.
Celebratory gunfire rang out in Gaza City when local radio stations reported news of the Tel Aviv explosion.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri praised the bombing, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
“Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a natural response to the Israeli massacres…in Gaza,” he said.
“Palestinian factions will resort to all means in order to protect our Palestinian civilians in the absence of a world effort to stop the Israeli aggression.”
The last time Israel’s commercial capital was hit by a serious bomb blast was in April 2006, when a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 11 people at a sandwich stand near the city’s old central bus station.
Reuters, ABC AU