Statement by the President on Bombing in Jerusalem

— President Barack Obama

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the bombing in Jerusalem today, as well as the rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in recent days. Together with the American people, I offer my deepest condolences for those injured or killed.   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.  We also express our deepest condolences for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza yesterday.  We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties.

Details and further reactions after the jump.

  • Bomb was at bus stop
  • No advance warning of bombing
  • First terror bombing in Jerusalem since 2004

A bomb exploded next to a bus stop in a busy part of Jerusalem on Wednesday, injuring dozens of people, several seriously, police said.
The bomb, hidden in a bag, was placed outside a telephone kiosk and exploded around 3 pm local time while two buses full of passengers were picking up passengers, Jerusalem police commander Aharon Frenkel told an impromptu news conference.

The explosion happened near the Binyamei Ha’Uma International Convention Center. Hospital officials reported that between five and eight people were seriously hurt.

“It was an enormous explosion, deafening,” said TIP senior staffer Laura Kam.

“I was in a taxi very close to the central bus station where the attack took place.  Suddenly an extremely loud explosion shook the city.  Seconds later sirens were heard and we knew instinctively that a terrorist attack had taken place,” she said.    

This was the first terrorist bombing attack to hit Jerusalem since 2004.

Police closed road leading to the site of the explosion. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to embark on a trip to Russia but delayed his departure and convened urgent consultations.

Israeli officials said the Palestinian Authority was indirectly to blame for the violence because it continued to incite violence among Palestinian population.

“The PA’s culture of praising terrorists produces terrorism. This incitement must stop,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

The attack came at a time of high tension in southern Israel. Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, armed and financed by Iran, have fired over 80 mortars and rockets at Israel since last Saturday, nine on Wednesday alone.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walked out of peace talks with Israel last September and has refused to return. Historically, when the peace process is stalled, terrorist violence fills the void.

B’nai B’rith International

B’nai B’rith International condemns in the strongest terms possible the bombing outside Jerusalem’s central bus station on March 23.

Israel’s minister of public security says a two-pound bomb left hidden in a bag on a sidewalk exploded injuring at least 25, some critically. The attack took place near the International Convention Center.

Unfortunately this attack cannot be viewed as a surprise. The constant incitement against the Jewish state from Israel’s enemies creates an atmosphere where a vicious attack can be launched on the people of Israel.

B’nai B’rith stands in solidarity with the people of Israel. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism

First and foremost, we pray for the victims of today’s tragic terrorist attack in Jerusalem.  We are dismayed by the loss of even one life and outraged at the terrorists’ disregard for human life. Additionally, our thoughts are with the first responders and hospital staff who are treating the victims, and the police and soldiers working to secure the city.

Any terrorist attack is cause for profound concern. But, given that this attack comes as part of a significant increase of violence in Israel – rockets targeting Israeli cities, heavy exchange of fire between Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza, and of course the recent horrific massacre of an Israeli family in Itamar in their sleep – our fears are heightened.  Renewed violence and terrorist tactics threaten to further undermine any possibility of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and pose risks for Israeli security in the already, and increasingly, unstable Middle East.

We call upon Palestinian leaders to condemn today’s attack and make it clear that rocket fire and bombs in bus stations are not the answer. We urge both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to do all they can to ensure the violence we have recently witnessed does not escalate. We call upon the Palestinians to return to peace talks immediately so that progress can be mode toward the peace that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples so desperately want and need.

But, most importantly today, we pray for the Jewish State and her citizens and offer our condolences to the victims and their families.

World Jewish Congress

The leadership of the World Jewish Congress harshly condemns today’s barbaric terrorist attack at a central bus station in
Jerusalem, in which one person was killed and dozens of people were wounded, many of them gravely. “It is appalling to see that once again, innocent Israeli men, women, and children have been deliberately targeted by terrorists. We hope that today’s terrorist attack does not mark a return to the days of a Palestinian terror war, and we strongly urge the Palestinian Authority and the international community stop extremists from causing more death and destruction in Israel and elsewhere,” declared Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Secretary General Designate Dan Diker added: “Today, Jews throughout the world stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel, who are again coming under deadly fire by those who want to destroy them. As any other nation, Israelis have a right to live in peace and security. The World Jewish Congress calls on the Palestinian Authority leadership to stop the on-going incitement to hatred of Israel and the Jewish people, which is a primary cause of these terrorist attacks.”

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