Deadly Twin Blasts Struck Jerusalem Half an Hour Apart
One person, a Canadian Israeli teenager, was killed, and more than 20 were injured in the attacks, which Israel security officials say were the first bombings in the city since 2016
Two explosions a short distance from each other hit two bus stops in Jerusalem Wednesday, killing at least one person and wounding more than 20.
The first bombings to hit Jerusalem since 2016, according to security officials, targeted an area frequented by ultra-Orthodox Jews at the western exit from the city.
A 16-year-old yeshiva student, Aryeh Shechopek, was killed. He was a Canadian citizen, according to Canada’s ambassador to Israel, Lisa Stadelbauer.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “saddened” by the killing and condemned the violence “in the strongest possible terms.”
The United States condemned “unequivocally the acts of terror” in Jerusalem. “Our commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad and unbreakable,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said.
A 16-year-old Palestinian boy, Amjad Shehadeh, was shot dead during clashes with Israeli forces late Tuesday in the city of Nablus, in the northern West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid assessed the situation in talks with representatives of the Defense Ministry, Public Security Ministry, Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet security agency, and the Israel Police.
“This event is different from what we have seen in recent years. An extensive intelligence effort is now underway that will lead us to find these heinous terrorists, those behind them, and those who provided them with weapons,” the prime minister said.
The police raised the level of alert in Jerusalem and Lapid ordered the deployment of additional forces in the Jerusalem area in the coming days.
Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said it was a “framework of attack that we haven’t seen for many years.”
The Palestinian armed group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, praised the bombings.
“We congratulate our Palestinian people and our people in the occupied city of Jerusalem on the heroic special operation at the bus stop,” Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua said.
Israeli journalist-turned-political analyst Eli Nissan told The Media Line that the deadly attack was a “dangerous development,” and put the blame squarely on Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.
“There is a lot of incitement from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. All terrorist organizations are trying to harm Israeli interests and Israeli citizens. There is an increase in stabbing attacks in the West Bank.”
“Sooner or later, Israel reaches everyone who planned, sent, and carried out such operations,” said Nissan.
The European Union’s Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev said he was “horrified by the terror attacks.”
“I express my deepest condolences to the family of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to all injured. Terror is never justified,” Tzantchev wrote on Twitter.
Violence escalated this year, particularly in the West Bank, where the Israeli army has launched near-daily raids since a series of deadly attacks on Israeli targets earlier this year.
The bombings hit amid talks about the makeup of a right-wing coalition government that prime minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu, a veteran hawk, is trying to form.
A key ally in the proposed alliance, far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, visited the scene of the blasts.
“We must form a government as soon as possible. The terror is not waiting,” he said.
Nissan contrasted Israel’s likely response to the Turkish government’s response after a deadly bombing in Istanbul’s popular Taqsim neighborhood earlier this month that killed six people and wounded more than 80. Turkey blamed the attack on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, an armed group that Turkey considers to be a terrorist organization.
“Frankly, the sanctions imposed on those who kill Israelis are laughable, compared to what Turkey is doing on terror groups.”
Nissan says the next government must take strict measures “or risk more attacks like this one.”
“Until the government decides to take a tougher stance against those who carry out such attacks, unfortunately, the penalties are light, and the next government must decide on these matters.”
This has been the deadliest year for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in more than seven years, with more than 130 Palestinians and around 30 Israelis killed this year.
Dimitri Diliani, spokesperson of the Democratic Reformist faction within Fatah, blamed the Israeli government for the increase in violence. Diliani told The Media Line that the Israeli security approach doesn’t help the situation.
“Any solution that is strictly limited to security and what the right wing is trying to promote won’t work,” says Diliani.
“At the end of the day, Israel looks for a security solution to a national political problem. That’s why it never worked and that’s it will never work,” he says.
He points the finger also at the absence of a political solution.
“The only solution is the establishment of the state of Palestine as was agreed on by the PA and Israel along the 1967 borders,” he says.
In October, Tor Wennesland, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, told the UN Security Council that 2022 was on course to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the UN started tracking fatalities in 2005. The envoy called for immediate action to calm “an explosive situation” and move toward renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“Mounting hopelessness, anger and tension have once again erupted into a deadly cycle of violence that is increasingly difficult to contain,” Wennesland said, and “too many people, overwhelmingly Palestinian, have been killed and injured.”
During the Second Intifada, the Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s, Palestinian factions repeatedly detonated bombs in busy areas around Israel and the West Bank.