An explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv on Wednesday injured 19 people, five of them were moderately to seriously hurt, an official told reporters as the bloody week-long crisis continued.
The bomb exploded as Israeli airstrikes continued to shake the region and Palestinian rockets were fired into Israel, amid negotiations about a possible truce, NBC News informs.
Tel Aviv police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld reported that the bus blast occurred in the centre of the city and that the surrounding area had been cordoned off as police searched for suspects.
“At the moment, we’re looking to see exactly what was the cause of the explosion itself,” Rosenfeld said, suggested that it could be caused by a device left on the bus or taken on by a passenger.
“This was a terrorist attack,” Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said.
The White House condemned the attack as “outrageous.” In a statement, it reaffirmed the United States’ “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people.”
The U.S. Secretary of State arrived in Cairo on Wednesday, where she was scheduled to meet Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
Speaking earlier in Jerusalem, Clinton assured Netanyahu of “rock-solid” U.S. support for Israel’s security and spoke of seeking a “durable outcome” and of Egypt’s “responsibility” for promoting peace.
“The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike,” she said.
Clinton was sent to the region by President Obama to join a group of world leaders aiming to put an end to the offensive in the region. Standing alongside the Israeli leader, Clinton indicated it could take some time to iron out an agreement.
“In the days ahead, the United States will work with our partners here in Israel and across the region toward an outcome that bolsters security for the people of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region,” she said.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Clinton met with Netanyahu and other Israeli officials for two hours.
“They discussed efforts to de-escalate the situation and bring about a sustainable outcome that protects Israel’s security and improves the lives of civilians in Gaza,” Nuland said.
“They also consulted on her impending stops in Ramallah and Cairo, including Egyptian efforts to advance de-escalation,” State Department spokeswoman added.
According to IBN News, Clinton also held negotiations with Palestinian President Abbas, whose tried to upgrade the Palestinians’ status at the United Nations, in the absence of peace negotiations with Israel, is opposed by Washington.
“Secretary Clinton informed the president that the U.S administration is exerting every possible effort to reach an immediate ceasefire and the president expressed his full support for this endeavour,” said Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.
“Once the Israelis accept to stop their bombardments, their assassinations, there will be a comprehensive ceasefire sustained from all parties,” Erekat said.
A Palestinian official familiar with the matter told reporters that Egyptian intelligence officials are to continue talks with leaders of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group on Wednesday.
“There may be a response from Israel that Egyptian mediators want to present to Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders,” the official said. “Let’s be hopeful it would be something Palestinian factions can accept.”