David Pappo was riding the number 240 bus line near Tel Aviv on Sunday when he noticed an unattended big black bag near the rear door. Suspicious, he opened it and discovered a pressure cooker with wires protruding.
He quickly alerted the driver Michael Yoger who told the passengers to get off fast. Minutes later, the bomb exploded.
Pappo and Yoger are being credited for their quick thinking which saved the lives of their 10 fellow commuters.
Israel Police said that the bomb was constructed of five kilograms (11 pounds) of explosives, which would have caused “immense devastation” in the closed environment, the Times of Israel wrote.
The driver “displayed outstanding resourcefulness” where timing was key, Dan Bus Company spokesman Eitan Fiksman told Ynet, adding that Yoger was the last to disembark before the bomb exploded.
Though Israeli police and President Shimon Peres praised his fast actions which resulted in not one person being injured, Yoger did not take credit for saving his passengers’ lives.
“I’m a hero? What hero? One of the passengers told me there’s a suspicious bag on the bus. I asked whose bag it is. When they told me it didn’t belong to anyone, I took the passengers off the bus,” he said.
Israeli police have now launched a massive manhunt – including aerial searches, roadblocks along the West Bank and searches of cars – for the culprit or culprits who planted the bomb which blew out the windows and burned the inside of the bus in Bat Yam, a seaside suburb of Tel Aviv.
Israel Police have called it the most serious terrorist attack inside Israel since the November 2012 bombing of a Tel Aviv bus that injured more than 20.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, “Based on the findings at the scene by bomb disposal experts, it was a terrorist attack.”
Though none have claimed responsibility, Palestinian terrorist groups praised the attack.
Hamas said it “welcomed” the attack and called it a “response to the crimes of the occupation.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad said the bombing “could usher the resumption of suicide attacks.”
“We strongly condemn the bombing of a bus near Tel Aviv,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with those affected and with the Israeli people at this time.”
“Violent acts targeting civilians are deplorable,” Psaki said. “We reaffirm our unshakable bond with Israel and our solidarity with the Israeli people.”
The explosion came during a period in which Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to make progress in peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
“The explosion threatened to further poison what has become a tense and negative atmosphere,” the Associated Press wrote.
Right-wing Member of Knesset Orit Struk of the Jewish Home party called on the Israeli government to stop releasing Palestinian prisoners before they complete serving their sentences as a peace talks gesture to the Palestinian Authority.
“The release of terrorists is the fuel on the fire of the terrorism that is returning to our streets,” Struk was quoted by Arutz 7. “I call on the government to stop the release of terrorists and bring back sanity, responsibility and security to Israel.”