JERUSALEM (JTA) — At least 24 people were injured when a bomb exploded in central Jerusalem.
Two of the injuries in the attack, which took place shortly before 3 p.m., were considered critical, according to news reports citing Magen David Adom, Israel’s version of the Red Cross. No deaths have been reported. One of the injured went straight to surgery at Hadassah Hospital; five others are reported in moderate condition.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the attack that he would delay a planned trip to Moscow.
Police say the bomb was left in a bag in a telephone booth next to a busy bus stop along a main artery in central Jerusalem near the International Convention Center and about a block from the city’s central bus terminal. The blast blew the windows out of two buses picking up passengers.
The entrance to the city of Jerusalem was closed following the explosion.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom threatened to launch a new operation against Gaza in the wake of increased shelling on Israel’s South.
"The period of restraint is over; we must do everything we can to strike out against those who wish to hurt the innocent," said Shalom on a visit to a site in Beersheba struck by two long-range Grad rockets on Wednesday. "I hope it won’t come to another Operation Cast Lead, but if there is no other choice we will launch another operation."
Shalom, of the Likud Party, grew up in the Beersheba residential neighborhood hit by the rockets, which left one man wounded. The attack followed a Grad rocket attack Tuesday on the port city of Ashdod; that rocket landed near the center of the city of 200,000. Ashdod schools were closed Wednesday following the attack.
At least seven mortars and one other rocket were fired into southern Israel on Wednesday morning. Israel’s Home Front Command called on Israelis living in the country’s South to go about their daily routine, despite the increasing rocket fire.
Earlier Wednesday, Israel’s Air Force said it bombed the rocket launcher from which the rocket was fired into Ashdod.