Blasts in Jerusalem kill a Canadian and injure 18 others

JERUSALEM –

Two blasts occurred near bus stops in Jerusalem at the height of the morning rush hour on Wednesday, killing a Canadian-Israeli teenager and injuring at least 18, in what police said were attacks by Palestinians.

The first explosion occurred at a typically busy bus stop on the outskirts of the city. The second went off about half an hour later in Ramot, a settlement to the north of the city. Police said one person died of their injuries and at least three were seriously injured in the blasts.

The victim was identified as Aryeh Schupak, 15, who was on his way to a Jewish seminary when the blast went off, according to a message announcing his death. According to the Canadian ambassador to Israel, Lisa Stadelbauer, Schupak also had Canadian nationality.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been escalating for months amid nighttime Israeli raids into the occupied West Bank sparked by a spate of deadly attacks on Israelis that left 19 people dead in the spring.

There has also been an uptick in Palestinian attacks in recent weeks. Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians after what Israel said was an armed attack on the occupied West Bank.

The violence came hours after Palestinian militants stormed a hospital in the West Bank and carried away an Israeli citizen seeking treatment there after a car accident, the young man’s father said. That incident could further escalate tensions.

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Israel would hunt 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 came as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held coalition talks following national elections and is likely to return to power as head of what is expected to become Israel’s most right-wing government ever.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, an extremist lawmaker who has called for the death penalty for Palestinian attackers and who is on the verge of becoming the minister in charge of policing under Netanyahu, said the attack meant Israel had to take a tougher stance against Palestinians. violence.

“We must charge a price for terror,” he said at the site of the first explosion. “We must return to take control of Israel, to restore deterrence against terror.”

Police, who were searching for the suspected attackers, said their initial findings showed that explosives containing shrapnel had been placed at the two sites. Police said it has sent additional officers to the city in the wake of the blasts.

The twin blasts occurred amid the buzz of rush hour traffic and police briefly closed off part of a main road leading out of the city, where the first explosion occurred. Video from shortly after the initial blast showed debris strewn along the sidewalk as the howls of ambulances blared. A bus in Ramot was littered with what appeared to be shrapnel.

“It was a crazy explosion,” Yosef Haim Gabay, a medic who was on the scene when the first blast happened, told Israeli army radio. “I saw people with bleeding wounds everywhere.”

While Palestinians have committed stabbings, car rams and shootings in recent years, bombings have become very rare since the end of a Palestinian insurgency nearly two decades ago.

The US Embassy in Jerusalem condemned the violence, as did EU Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev.

The Islamist militant Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and once carried out suicide bombings against Israelis, praised the perpetrators of the attacks and called it a heroic operation, but declined to claim 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 opened two West Bank border crossings for Palestinians close to the West Bank city of Jenin, a militant stronghold.

In Jenin, militants entered a hospital late Tuesday and removed the Israeli teenager injured in a car accident. The young man, 17, was from the Druze minority in Israel. His father, who was with him in the hospital room, said the militants disconnected him from 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 terrible. It was something that was inhumane,” Husam Ferro, the teen’s father, told the Israeli news site YNet. “He was alive and they took him in front of me and I couldn’t do anything.”

A Druze community leader told YNet that talks were underway about returning the body to the family. Palestinian militants have committed kidnappings in the past to solicit concessions from Israel. Lapid said the militants would “pay a high 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 this year in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2006. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed are militants. But also rock-throwing youths protesting Israeli army raids and others not involved in confrontations have been killed.

At least eight Israelis have been killed in the most recent wave of Palestinian attacks.

The Israeli army said on Wednesday that Palestinian gunmen opened fire overnight on troops escorting worshipers to a flashpoint shrine in the West Bank town of Nablus. The troops returned fire and the Palestinian Health Ministry said a 16-year-old was killed in the incident, and hours later it said Muhammed Abu Kishek, 22, also died of 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 seeking the territories for their hoped-for independent state.

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Goldenberg reported 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.

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