US Consulate Tells Employees: Stay Off Sheruts After Bombing
The US Consulate General in Jerusalem has released a notice to all Consulate and Embassy employees with US citizenship, prohibiting them from using sherut or shuttle taxi services for the time being.
The Consulate notice states that the purpose behind the ban is to "assess the security implications of the December 22 bomb attack on a public bus in the Bat Yam neighborhood of Tel Aviv" and notes that there has been a "longstanding prohibition on the use of public busses" for their employees in Israel.
Sunday's attack saw one person injured when a suspicious package exploded on the 240 bus from Bnei Brak to Bat Yam. Twelve passengers were on the bus at the time; the passengers cited the resourcefulness and quick-thinking of the driver for saving their lives, when he took notice of concerns raised about the object and urged passengers to evacuate.
Bus bombings were commonplace during the Second Intifada (terror war against Israel). The attack was welcomed by both Hamas and Islamic Jihad - though neither took responsibility for the attack.
It is unclear, however, why the shuttle taxis or sherut service would be of concern to the Consulate. The mode of transportation is notably different than a public bus; small groups of passengers often book a shuttle in advance from place to place, or are used as supplements to a local bus line. Logically, the smaller quarters would make spotting a suspicious object or person much easier.
In any case, the Consulate urges all American citizens to exercise appropriate caution.
"U.S. citizens are encouraged to exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security," the statement continues. "U.S. citizens should pay close attention to their surroundings and news reports, and follow the civil defense guidance provided by the Home Front Command."