I participated earlier this afternoon in a press conference given by Maj. Avital Leibovich, head of the Foreign Press Branch of the IDF Spokesperson’s office. She informed us that earlier today, Palestinians in Gaza fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus inside sovereign Israel, critically injuring a 13-year-old child and seriously injuring the driver. As the bus was apparently approaching the end of the route, the two victims were the only passengers left on the bus. The strike occurred just outside Kibbutz Sa’ad.
The yellow regional council bus was clearly identified as carrying children. Though there have not yet been any claims of responsibility, Israel holds Hamas, which controls Gaza, responsible for all acts of aggression against Israel emanating from their territory.
Maj. Leibovich described the attack as part of an “ongoing attempt by Hamas to try to escalate in the south by targeting Israeli civilians through many means,” and indicated that the IDF is “operating” in the area. An Israeli attack helicopter is reported to have machine-gunned a target in the center of Gaza City for the first time since the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead, and an Israeli F-16 is said to have bombed a “major Hamas security compound.” Both the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council and the IDF Spokesperson’s office are reporting that a barrage of mortar shells and Qassams has been fired at the border area from Gaza since the bus attack this afternoon.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking to UN Security Council ambassadors today, described the bus attack as “another example of how Gaza has turned into a terror state. None of you would give up on the security of your country, and Israel will also defend itself. Hundreds of thousands of mothers and children in southern Israel cannot sleep peacefully at night as a result of the rocket fire from Gaza.”
PM Netanyahu also addressed the attack during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany, stating that Israel will not put up with terrorist attacks that no other country would tolerate.