JERUSALEM (JTA) — A bomb exploded on a public bus in Bat Yam, a city neighboring Tel Aviv, after the passengers had been removed.
The passengers had alerted the driver to a suspicious package left on the vehicle, which was traveling from Bnei Brak to Bat Yam in central Israel.
The bomb, which was placed in a black backpack with wires sticking out, detonated as a police sapper was working to defuse it.
It is unclear if the bomb was a terror attack or criminal in nature. Police sources have told Israeli and international media that it appeared to be a terror attack.
Bus passenger David Papo first identified the bomb and helped remove other passengers. In a telephone call, Israeli President Shimon Peres thanked Papo for his quick action.
Papo told Peres why he decided to examine the bag.
“I didn’t understand how someone could leave such a big bag on the bus,” Papo said. “I tried to lift the bag, but it was so heavy that it raised my suspicion further. When I opened the bag, I saw what it was.
“When the explosion happened, we were in the road helping the police to stop passers-by and the traffic. Only afterwards when I saw the hole in the bus did I understand the damage that could have been caused.”