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Ex-Israeli PM Olmert makes video plea before entering jail

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert released a video statement insisting on his innocence before entering prison to begin a 19-month sentence for corruption.

Ehud Olmert, who appeared in a blue shirt in his video plea, will wear a prison uniform and have two cellmates but will be segregated from the general prison population for security reasons. Credit: RTV

The 70-year-old - who was credited with working towards peace with the Palestinians while in office from 2006 to 2009 - is the first former head of government in Israel to go to prison.

"As prime minister I was charged with the highest responsibility of safeguarding Israel's citizens. Today I am the one to be locked behind bars," he said in a video released to the media.

Olmert entered Maasiyahu prison near Ramle, south of Tel Aviv, after arriving in a motorcade protected by bodyguards assigned to former leaders. Credit: Reuters

"At this time, it is important for me to say once more, as I did in court and outside it, that I completely deny the bribery charges I was accused of," Olmert said in the video.

Olmert had his initial six-year sentence cut by Israel's Supreme Court in December. A separate eight-month jail term is pending since his conviction last May in another case related to cash payments he was alleged to have received from an American businessman.

Report: Attacker stabbed nine people on Tel Aviv bus

Police near the scene of the attack in Tel Aviv Credit: Reuters

Israeli news website JPost reports that an attacker stabbed at least nine people on a bus in Tel Aviv today.

The report describes the assailant as a "suspected terrorist" and says that he entered Israel illegally.

Pictures from the scene showed police investigators boarding the bus and a number of ambulances.

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'Strong possibility' Tel Aviv explosion is criminal act

Israeli police have said that an explosion has gone off in a car in Tel Aviv but that there is a "strong possibility" it is a criminal act.

Associated Press report that police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said he believed the explosion near a bus was criminally motivated, though he could not definitively rule out that it was political violence.

Rescue services spokesman Zaki Heller says preliminary reports from the scene indicated seven to 10 people were wounded in the explosion.

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US condemns 'outrageous' Tel Aviv bomb attack

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.

These attacks against innocent Israeli civilians are outrageous.

The United States will stand with our Israeli allies, and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack.

The United States reaffirms our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people.

– White House Press Secreatry

Hague: 'Terrorists must not be allowed to set the agenda'

The Foreign Secretary William Hague has said "the UK is deeply concerned at emerging reports of a bomb attack on a bus in Tel Aviv":

At this time our thoughts are with the individuals and families affected.

Details of what happened are still unclear but if this was a terrorist attack we condemn it unreservedly.

We are clear that terrorists must not be allowed to set the agenda.

This shocking violence further underlines the urgent need for an immediate de-escalation of violence and a full ceasefire.

We urge all those involved to do everything they can to give maximum support to Egyptian-led efforts to allow them to succeed.