One Israeli was killed and 26 others injured, including several in critically, when two improvised explosive devices were detonated by terrorists at separate locations in the Israeli capital.
By Erin Viner
Two blasts rocked the city this morning during rush hour.
The first bomb was detonated at 7:05 at a bus stop near the western entrance to Jerusalem, with the second timed just half-hour later another bus stop at a junction in the northern Ramot neighborhood.
Aryeh Schupak, a 15-year-old dual Israeli Canadian citizen, was killed in the first attack while waiting for his shuttle to a Jewish seminary (Yeshiva).
Israeli police said preliminary investigation indicates that Palestinian terrorists planted the bombs in bags left at the public transportation sites, that were later detonated by remote control, possibly by cellphones. At least one of the hidden explosives was packed with nails to maximize injuries to those nearby.
“There has not been such a coordinated attack in Jerusalem for many years,” Police Spokesman Eli Levi told Army Radio.
The injured were rushed to area hospitals after receiving emergency care by paramedics.
“It is a very difficult morning of two explosions as far as we know, with high probability that the attacks are connected,” said Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev at the scene, adding, “it’s clear that this is a far more complicated event, it’s not inspired, it’s not just someone who woke up one morning and decided to do an attack.”
A manhunt was launched immediately in search of the perpetrators.
The explosions came as the country’s presumptive next premier Benjamin Netanyahu negotiates with allies to form a new right-wing government, including members of religious and far-right parties.
One of his allies, ultra-nationalist Knesset Member and Otzma Yehudit party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the scene of the first bombing where he demanded tough action against terrorists.
“Even if it’s in the West Bank, lay siege to them and go from house to house in search of guns and restore our deterrence power,” demanded Ben-Gvir, who hopes to be appointed the next Public Security Minister.
The explosions evoke powerful memory of the bus bombings that were a hallmark of the Second Palestinian Intifada from the year 2000 through 2005.
A spokesman for the Islamist Hamas terror group in Gaza was swift to praise this morning’s attacks, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
“The Zionist occupation is paying the price today for its crimes and aggression against our people and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and we have warned about this repeatedly,” proclaimed Abdel-Latif Al-Qanoua.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other senior politicians in Ottawa expressed shock over the attack.
“Heartbroken to confirm that a young Canadian lost his life in this morning’s reprehensible terror attack in Jerusalem. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to others wounded in this attack,” Canadian Ambassador to Israel Lisa Stadelbauer wrote on Twitter, stressing that her nation “continues to condemn all forms of terror.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid convened an emergency cabinet session on the security situation in Jerusalem after concluding a broad situation assessment with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Public Security Minister Bar-Lev and officials from the IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Police. He bestowed the government’s deepest condolences to the family of Aryeh Schupak, who he described as “a teenager who did nothing wrong to anyone in the world and was murdered only because he was Jewish.”
“An extensive intelligence effort is now underway that will lead to the discovery of the despicable terrorists, to uncover those behind them, and who provides them with weapons. I want to say from here to the citizens of Israel, we will reach them. They can run, they can hide, it won’t help them. The security forces will reach them. If they resist, they will be thwarted,” vowed the outgoing Israeli leader.
Lapid also referred to yesterday’s kidnapping and subsequent death of Tiran Pero, 17, yesterday in Jenin.
Pero and another Israeli teen were taken by Palestinian medics to the West Bank city’s Ibn Sina Hospital after suffering injures in a nearby serious car accident. 20 armed terrorists stormed the facility, disconnected Piro from lifesaving medical equipment and took him captive. He reportedly succumbed to his wounds a short time later.
“I spoke today with Tiran’s father,” said Prime Minister Lapid. Warning that “the kidnappers will pay a heavy price” if the teenager’s body is not returned, Lapid stressed, “Israel has proven in recent months that there is no place and no terrorist that it does not know how to reach, from the Kasbah in Nablus, the refugee camp in Jenin, to arenas near and far.”
In related developments, dozens of terror cells have been busted over the course of the past 72 hours alone.
29 suspected terrorists were captured in overnight operations by IDF, ISA and Border Police Special Operations Units as part of Operation Waves Breaker, launched seven months ago after the beginning of a deadly surge of attacks against Israelis that has now killed 25 people since last March,
During the course of operations, Israeli forces safeguarding a coordinated visit of Jewish worshippers to the tomb of the biblical figure Joseph near Nablus exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen who opened fire at the group. No injuries were reported among the Israeli civilians or the accompanying forces, while Arab media “confirmed the martyrdom” of Ahmad Amjad Shehadeh, 16, and injury to six Palestinian men.
“When he heard that the occupation forces are raiding the area, his friends took him with them and gave him a gun. He went with them to resist. Now he is near the creator and we are thankful to Allah,” proclaimed Shehadeh’s father Amjad, during a mass funeral procession in Nablus that included masked gunmen, the firing of weapons and chants of “Allahu Akhbar” by hundreds of Palestinians.