A major disaster was averted this morning when a bomb planted underneath the carriage of a fuel tanker exploded at the Pi Glilot petroleum and gas depot in Herzliya. As a result of the blast, a small fire broke out but was quickly doused by the depot's automatic fire extinguisher system. The driver of the tanker was not in the vehicle at the time. Efforts in the past to move the fuel depot away from residential areas have not been successful.
The blast occurred when the tanker arrived at the depot to fill up. Police and depot officials initially believed the explosion occurred due to a malfunction in the transfer of fuel. Upon investigation, police discovered the remnants of a cellular phone and traces of explosives under the truck. Police are investigating whether the bomb was planted on the tanker when it parked overnight in Holon, or during the journey from there to Herzliya.
Shlomi Sarig, deputy director of Pi Glilot, said that security had recently been beefed up at the depot, but despite regular security checks at the depot's entrance, it was not a real problem to attack a small bomb to the bottom of a tanker, Ha'aretz reported.
"We heard a huge blast," tanker driver Yaakov Karo told the Itim news agency. "The diesel fuel began flowing, and ignited within seconds. If this had been gasoline, the situation would have been much, much worse."
The Pi Glilot depot has been described as a "disaster waiting to happen." The depot is Israel's largest, and in recent years government ministers and Knesset members have raised proposals to move it to a more isolated location.
Former National Infrastructures Minister Avigdor Lieberman (National Union/Yisrael Beiteinu) told Army Radio that the fact the depot hasn't been moved is a "failure" on the part of politicians who had not made the necessary decisions.
Deputy National Infrastructures Minister Naomi Blumenthal (Likud) will hold an emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss the Pi Glilot site, Maariv reported. Residents of the nearby Ramat Aviv Gimel neighborhood announced that they would close down schools tomorrow in protest of the security failure at the depot.
Ellis Shuman Israelinsider