President Obama condemned “in the strongest possible terms” on Wednesday a bombing that killed a woman and injured more than 20 other people at a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem. He also expressed condolences for civilians harmed in recent Israeli operations in Gaza, urging an end to the violence.
“Together with the American people, I offer my deepest condolences for those injured or killed,” Obama said in a statement Wednesday. “There is never any possible justification for terrorism. The United States calls on the groups responsible to end these attacks at once and we underscore that Israel, like all nations, has a right to self-defense.”
The bombing, which Israeli authorities said was the first significant Palestinian militant attack in Jerusalem in the last few years, was “a terror attack,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the Associated Press. One 60-year-old woman died from her injuries and 24 others were wounded, with three in critical condition, authorities said. The bomb was planted in a small backpack placed near the central bus station, a location in Jerusalem that is constantly bustling with people.
Israeli-Palestinian tension has been heightened in recent weeks. Earlier this month, five Jewish settlers—including a 3-month-old child-- were stabbed to death while they slept in their home in Itamar, in the West Bank, an act that prompted serious condemnation from both the U.S. and Israel.
Israel has also launched what it called “widespread retaliations” in Gaza for an increase in rocket and mortar fire over the border with Israel that killed several civilians. The Israeli air force struck two smuggling tunnels, weapons-development facilities, and other “terror centers,” according to an Israeli Defense Forces release. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized on Tuesday for the deaths of “innocent civilians” who were “were unintentionally hit as a result of IDF shelling.”
Obama also expressed his “deepest condolences for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” stressing the “importance of calm and [urging] all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties."
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on the Israeli public to be alert. “It's important to return to our regular routines as quickly as possible. When terror attempts to disrupt our way of life, the best solution is to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Events in Jerusalem will not be cancelled and Jerusalem will not stop running,” he said in a statement.