Blast Hits Tel Aviv Bus
At least 21 people were injured when an explosion hit a bus in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Israeli media said.
The Islamist group Hamas later said it had carried out the attack in response to the ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
Police said they were seeking the two suspected bombers.

Three of the injured are in a "serious" condition, Israeli media said.

"Hamas welcomes the martyrdom operation and stresses that it is a natural response to the massacring of the Al-Dalu family and the targeting of Palestinian citizens," the group said in a statement.

Nine members of the Al-Dalu family were killed when an Israeli airstrike hit their house in Gaza earlier this week.
The death toll in the eight-day conflict stands at 136 Palestinians and five Israelis, officials say. Gaza's health ministry says many children are among the Palestinian dead.

Hamas has ruled the Palestinian enclave of Gaza since 2007. Israel says it began its attack on the city of 1.7 million in response to a surge in rocket attacks from Gaza.

Palestinian rockets continued to hurtle toward Israeli towns and cities on Wednesday, but most were knocked down by the sophisticated Iron Dome air defense system. Israel says more than 800 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel over the past week.
A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that a second bomb that did not explode had also been found on the bus in Tel Aviv.

An Israeli Defense Forces spokesman said on Twitter that Hamas members had celebrated on the streets of Gaza as news of the bus bombing broke.

The bombing comes amid frantic negotiations to end the violence.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after flying into Jerusalem late on Tuesday. Clinton is due to visit the West Bank and Cairo later today.

"It is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza," she said ahead of talks with Netanyahu. "The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on Israeli cities and towns must end and a broader calm be restored."

But Netanyahu, speaking before his meeting with Clinton, said that while Israel would prefer to see a "diplomatic solution" to he crisis, it reserved the right to take whatever action it deemed necessary to halt the Palestinian rocket attacks that provoked its onslaught.
Israel has massed tens of thousands of troops on the border with Gaza, but has said it will give diplomatic efforts a chance before issuing the order to invade. Tel Aviv is demanding the cessation of rocket fire from Gaza as the main condition for a truce.

Israel's last invasion of Gaza, in 2008-2009, killed 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians. Thirteen Israelis died in the 22-day-long Operation Cast Lead.

A Haaretz-Dialog poll taken on Sunday indicated that 84% of the Israeli public supports the military campaign, with 12% opposing it. But only 30% would support a ground offensive in Gaza, the pollster reported. (Cihan/Ria Novosti)
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Last Modified: 2012-11-21 16:00:03
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