The White House on Wednesday condemned a bomb attack on a Tel Aviv bus, as Secretary Hillary Clinton worked to craft a cease-fire to halt the violence between Hamas and Israel.
“The United States condemns today’s terrorist attack on a bus in Tel Aviv. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those injured, and with the people of Israel,” said a statement from the White House.
The latest attack came as Clinton arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to meet with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Clinton traveled to the region on Tuesday in hopes of brokering a truce to end the weeklong violence between Israel and Hamas and avert a possible ground war in Gaza.
Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening and reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel, saying that “America’s commitment to Israel's security is rock-solid and unwavering.”
But Clinton added that she hoped to push forward efforts to find a “comprehensive peace” in the region.
“In the days ahead, the United States will work with our partners here in Israel and across the region toward an outcome that bolsters security for the people of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region,” said Clinton.
Israel launched air attacks against Hamas targets in Gaza last week in response to a spike in rocket attacks from the terrorist group against Israeli civilians. The violence has continued for eight days, with Hamas returning rocket fire and Israeli officials refusing to rule out a ground invasion of Gaza.
Hopes for a cease-fire grew on Tuesday after a top Hamas official and Morsi said they expected a truce in place shortly. But no agreement was reached and Israeli forces continued to wage strikes against Hamas throughout the night.
Washington has placed the blame for the violence on Hamas, calling on its leaders to halt their attacks on Israel and pressuring Morsi to rein in his Islamist allies in Gaza.
Obama has spoken to Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, three times since the conflict began in hopes he can help broker a settlement to end the violence.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on Tuesday said that Obama had “commended” Morsi on his “efforts to pursue a de-escalation.”
Clinton is also slated to meet with officials from the Palestinian Authority, but will not speak to representatives from Hamas, the White House said Tuesday.
Early reports said that the blast aboard the city bus wounded at least 11 people.
A spokesman for the Israeli government called the bombing a “terrorist attack” and said “most of the injured suffered only mild injuries,” according to reports.
A Hamas spokesman praised the attack, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
“Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a natural response to the Israeli massacres ... in Gaza,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.