JERUSALEM – The Israeli government has initial information indicating that instructions for today’s bomb explosion at a crowded bus stop at the entrance to Jerusalem came from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, WND has learned.
Twenty-five people were wounded in the attack, four of them seriously.
Also, Palestinian Authority security officials tell WND they suspect a specific cell of the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad located in the region of the northern West Bank city of Ramallah was directly involved in the bombing, just outside the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.
PA security officials say Palestinian forces, coordinating with Israel, have launched a massive investigation focusing on families of Islamic Jihad terrorists in Ramallah.
The Israeli government, meanwhile, suspects today’s bombing is part of an Iranian-led campaign to foil talks between Hamas and the U.S.-backed PA to form a unity government.
Iran has been concerned Hamas may moderate some of its positions in forming a unity coalition.
Hamas in recent days has evidenced a major schism between political elements led by former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas’ so-called military wing, the Izaddin al-Qassam Brigades.
Haniyeh last week invited PA President Mahmoud Abbas for urgent talks in the Gaza Strip to discuss ways of ending the feud between the two sides. It would mark Abbas’ first visit to Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.
The al-Qassam Brigades largely answers to Iran, Israeli security officials said.
According to sources within Hamas speaking in recent days to WND, the internal Hamas dispute got so ugly that members of the Hamas “military” wing this past weekend briefly surrounded Haniyeh’s house in a show of force.
The leader of the Al-Qassam Brigades warned Haniyeh that if he presses forward with unity talks with Abbas, Hamas will start a confrontation with Israel meant to bring massive Israeli retaliation into the Gaza Strip, the Hamas sources claimed.
Today’s bomb attack in Jerusalem appeared to be coordinated with terrorists inside Gaza. It was carried out just hours after two long-range Iranian Grad-type rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, hitting the southern city of Be’er Sheva. Also today, a barrage of mortar shells were fired on the western Negev.
Since Saturday, terrorists in Gaza have fired more than 60 rockets at Israel, with Hamas claiming responsibility for some of the attacks. Usually, Hamas claims third-party groups in Gaza are behind such attacks.
WND reported this week the Hamas rocket attacks were also ordered by Iran, according to a senior Israeli security official.
“Incredibly, the attacks against Israel have little to do with Hamas’ confrontation with Jews and was more about internal political posturing,” the official said.
Today’s bombing in Jerusalem took place at arguably the most crowded outdoor bus stop in the city, located in front of Jerusalem’s convention center and just across the street from the city’s main bus station.
The blast could be heard throughout Jerusalem and reportedly blew out the windows of two crowded buses. According to reports, the explosive device was apparently hidden in a bag next to a telephone pole beside the buses.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a scheduled state trip to Moscow to deal with the aftermath of the bombing.