Hamas’s military wing later claimed credit for the attack in an article on their English-language Web site complete with photos of the damaged bus. In addition to the bus strike, at least 45 mortars and rockets were fired from Gaza terrorists at Israel on Thursday, according to a press release on the IDF spokesperson’s blog.
After a spike in attacks last month, Rosenfeld said things around the Gaza Strip had been relatively calm more recently, “but once again we’re in another peak of dealing with the terrorists that are clearly aiming and trying to kill innocent Israelis, especially today, trying to kill, unfortunately, [by shooting at] a school bus with children in it.”
Rosenfeld said police bomb disposal experts examined the site and confirmed the weapon fired was, in fact, an anti-tank missile. He said, “We believe that that anti-tank missile was directly aimed at the school bus, very accurate, very advanced,” meaning the Gaza terrorists apparently targeted the bus intentionally.
“This is the first time there’s been an anti-tank missile fired at a civilian target. There wasn’t a tank that was aimed at…[It was] clearly aimed at the bus, an anti-tank missile that’s fairly advanced, with precise coordinates and other systems that make the target very, very direct to hit, and therefore, it wasn’t just out of the blue that that bus was targeted this afternoon,” said Rosenfeld.
“But that’s all being assessed both by the Israeli Police and the IDF, and obviously, we’ll take all necessary steps within the next few hours to deal with the situation around the Gaza Strip at the moment.” In light of the wave of attacks, he said they closed some major roads around the Gaza Strip and asked civilians to enter safe areas.
Rosenfeld said the bus was hit in the back, with damage done all the way to the front. Rosenfeld acknowledged that their basic assumption at the moment is that had the bus still been full of children, they would have been dealing with a mass-casualty event. “Anyone who would have been on that bus would have been seriously-to-critically injured.”
According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) Web site, the injured teen had been visiting his grandmother and was riding with the bus driver, who is a friend of the family.
The MFA Web site quoted Israeli President Shimon Peres as saying, “This is another incident which proves the Gaza Strip has turned into a terrorist zone. No one would give up the safety of his country’s citizens, and Israel stands firm on the right to defend itself. Hundreds of thousands of mothers and children in southern Israel cannot sleep at night as a result of rocket-fire from the Gaza Strip.”
The US also condemned the attack on the bus. Spokesman Mark Toner, in comments to reporters posted on the State Department Web site, said, “We condemn the attack on innocent civilians in southern Israel in the strongest possible terms, as well as ongoing rocket fire from Gaza. As we have reiterated many times, there’s no justification for the targeting of innocent civilians, and those responsible for these terrorist acts should be held accountable.
“We are particularly concerned about reports that indicate the use of an advanced anti-tank weapon in an attack against civilians and reiterate that all countries have obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition.”
The IDF press release said the Israel Air Force (IAF) responded to the violence in part by targeting a number of “terror-activity sites” in the Gaza Strip, confirming direct hits: “The IDF will not allow any attempt to harm Israeli civilians and will respond with determination to any attempt to use terror against the citizens of Israel, according to security assessments. The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip.”
Posted on April 8, 2011
Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, April 7, 2011)
Photo Credit: The Israel Project
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