JERUSALEM (AP) — Two explosions went off near bus stops in Jerusalem at the height of the morning rush hour Wednesday, killing a Canadian-Israeli teenager and injuring at least 18, in what police said said they were attacks by Palestinians.
The first explosion occurred near a typically busy bus stop on the edge of town. The second one went about half an hour later to Ramot, a settlement in the north of the city. Police said one person died of his injuries and at least three were seriously injured in the blasts.
The victim has been identified as Aryeh Schupak, 15, who was on his way to a Jewish seminary when the blast went off, according to an alert announcing his death. Schupak was also a Canadian citizen, according to Canada’s ambassador to Israel Lisa Stadelbauer.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been rising for months, amid nighttime Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank prompted by a series of deadly attacks on Israelis that killed 19 people in the spring.
There has also been an increase in recent weeks in Palestinian attacks. Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians after what Israel said was an armed attack in the occupied West Bank.
The violence occurred hours after Palestinian militants stormed a West Bank hospital and brought an Israeli citizen seeking treatment there after a car accident, according to the young man’s father. That incident could also heighten the tension.
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Israel would track down the attackers.
“They can run, they can hide – it won’t help them,” he said in a statement. “We will punish them to the fullest extent of the law.”
The developments occurred as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held coalition talks after the national elections and is likely to return to power as head of what is expected to be Israel’s most right-wing government ever.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, an extremist lawmaker who has called for the death penalty for Palestinian attackers and is set to become the minister in charge of police under Netanyahu, said the attack meant Israel needed to take a more assertive stance. tough on Palestinian violence.
“We have to demand a price from terror,” he said at the scene of the first explosion. “We must return to be in control of Israel, to restore deterrence against terror.”
Police, who were searching for the suspected attackers, said their initial findings showed that explosive devices laden with shrapnel had been placed at both sites. Police said they deployed additional officers to the city after the blasts.
The twin explosions occurred amid the buzz of rush hour traffic and police briefly closed part of a main road leading out of the city, where the first explosion went off. Video from shortly after the initial blast showed debris strewn along the sidewalk as the wail of ambulances rang out. A bus in Ramot was riddled with what appeared to be shrapnel marks.
“It was a crazy explosion,” Yosef Haim Gabay, a medic who was on the scene when the first explosion occurred, told Israel Army Radio. “I saw people with bleeding wounds all over the place.”
While Palestinians have carried out stabbings, car rammings and shootings in recent years, bombing attacks have become very rare since the end of a Palestinian uprising nearly two decades ago.
The US embassy in Jerusalem condemned the violence, as did EU ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev.
Islamic militant Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and once carried out suicide attacks against Israelis, praised the perpetrators of the attacks, calling it a heroic operation, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
“The occupation is reaping the price of its crimes and aggression against our people,” said Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua.
Israel said in response to the blasts it was closing two West Bank crossings to Palestinians near the West Bank city of Jenin, a militant stronghold.
In Jenin late Tuesday, militants entered a hospital and removed an Israeli teenager injured in a car accident. The young man, 17 years old, was from Israel’s Druze minority. His father, who was in the hospital room with him, said that the militants disconnected him from the hospital equipment and took him while he was alive. The Israeli army said the young man was already dead when he was taken.
“It was something horrible. It was something that was inhuman,” Husam Ferro, the teenager’s father, told the Israeli news site YNet. “He was still alive and they took him in front of my eyes and I couldn’t do anything.”
A Druze community leader told YNet that discussions were ongoing about returning the body to the family. Palestinian militants have in the past carried out kidnappings to seek concessions from Israel. Lapid said the militants would “pay a heavy price” if the body was not returned.
Palestinian officials declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2006. The Israeli military says most of the Palestinians killed were militants But young stone throwers who protested Israeli army raids and others who did not participate in confrontations were also killed.
At least eight Israelis have been killed in the latest wave of Palestinian attacks.
The Israeli military said on Wednesday that Palestinian gunmen opened fire on forces escorting worshipers to a shrine of fire in the West Bank city of Nablus overnight. Troops opened fire and the Palestinian Health Ministry said a 16-year-old boy was killed in the incident, and hours later, he said Muhammed Abu Kishek, 22, also died from a gunshot wound to the stomach.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, along with East Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians are looking for territories for their hoped-for independent state.
Goldenberg said from Tel Aviv, Israel. Associated Press writers Isaac Scharf in Jerusalem, Eleanor H. Reich in Tel Aviv and Jalal Bwaitel in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.