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Jerusalem: One dead and several wounded in twin explosions

Two bomb attacks targeting separate bus stops wound at least 22 people and kill 16-year-old Canadian yeshiva student
Israeli forensic experts work at the scene of an explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem on 23 November 2022 (AFP)
Israeli forensic experts work at the scene of an explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem on 23 November 2022 (AFP)
By Lubna Masarwa in Jerusalem

At least one person was killed and 22 people wounded after two explosions hit entrances to Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, Israeli police said.

At around 7am local time, an explosive device detonated at a bus stop in Givat Shaul, wounding at least 12 people, one of who succumbed to injuries later in hospital.

The fatality was a minor, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, naming him as 16-year-old Canadian yeshiva student Aryeh Shechopek.

Half an hour later, another attack at a different bus stop a short distance away wounded several others, medics said. According to Israeli media, security sources said the devices were likely controlled remotely. 

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Of the 22 wounded, one was in a critical condition, and two in a serious condition. Nine people also received treatment for anxiety following the attack. 

Shechopek's funeral will take place at 3pm local time in Jerusalem.

Israel's Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said they were looking for perpetrators and possibly other explosives in the city.  

Palestinian armed groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attacks but stopped short of claiming responsibility. 

Following the blasts, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz held an assessment with senior army and police officials, as well as the Shin Ben domestic security agency chief. 

'Lay siege to them'

Omer Bar-Lev, outgoing public security minister, said at the scene of one blast: "It's a very difficult morning. There's a high probability that there's a connection between the attacks. These are not copycats. I believe that we'll put our hand on all involved."

Far-right Israeli MP Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is likely to take Bar-Lev's post when a new government is formed, also visited the scene of the first explosion. He called for escalation against Palestinian resistance fighters in the occupied West Bank.

"Lay siege to them and go from house to house in search of guns and restore our deterrence power," said Ben-Gvir.

Assaf David, a professor in political sciences at Hebrew University, himself a victim of a previous bus explosion, told Middle East Eye the current situation was "an explosive barrel" that will "explode at one point".

David lost an eye in 1995 after the bus he was travelling on exploded in northern Jerusalem.

"The explosion today scares me, also as a Jerusalem resident but also as someone who was seriously injured in a Palestinian attack. It takes me back to those days," David said. "I'm worried for my children, family and friends - it's a disaster what is going on.

"But I think that Israelis now who experience the disaster, they don’t understand the impossible life of Palestinians in the West Bank... Every day Palestinian [are] killed and we find different excuses to justify it."

Israeli police walk past a damaged bus following an explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem 23 November 2022 (Reuters)
Israeli police walk past a damaged bus following an explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem 23 November 2022 (Reuters)

More Israelis have been killed in attacks this year than any since 2006 - 28 including Shechopek. Meanwhile, 190 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza in the same period.

The Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank this year - 141 - are the highest recorded on a monthly average since 2005 according to the UN. 

Violence has spiked amid growing Israeli army raids in the West Bank to stamp out a resurgence of Palestinian armed resistance. 

Second Intifada memories

The Wednesday blasts were reminiscent of bombings during the Second Intifada, where Israeli bus stops were a frequent target of Palestinian attacks. 

"I feel confused, this situation reminds me of the Second Intifada," Teferit Kedmi, an Israeli resident of Jerusalem and a librarian, told MEE. 

"I just called the Palestinian woman who is nursing my parents to be careful because I believe now they will start to take revenge on Palestinians and even to do lynchings. The situation is very scary."

'I just called the Palestinian woman who is nursing my parents to be careful because I believe now they will start to take revenge on Palestinians'

- Teferit Kedmi, Jerusalem resident

Kedmi said that she takes buses every day to work, and would continue to do so despite being fearful of attacks. 

"I am not scared to keep using buses, anything can happen to me anywhere. But I'm more scared of being a witness of a lynch on Arabs, which I think will happen a lot in the coming period.

"There are no Arabs on the buses, they don’t dare to take the Israeli buses, not like when I was a child," she added.

"The political situation will get worse with Ben-Gvir, he is going everywhere and spreading hate and revenge."

The attack was discussed at the Knesset on Wednesday, sparking a row after lawmaker Ofer Cassif sent condolences to "all victims of the occupation". 

"I want to express my sorrow over the ongoing bloodshed. I also want to send my condolences to all the victims of the occupation - Jews and Palestinians alike," Cassif said. "Note the symbolism of the age. Both yesterday and today, a Palestinian and a Jewish 16-year-old were murdered, and won't be able to enjoy what the Americans call their sweet sixteen."

Two Likud lawmakers interrupted Cassif, calling him "rude", while Yesh Atid's Meir Cohen said: "A device is placed next to [a Jewish boy], murdering him, and you are here, provoking."

The bomb attacks came hours after a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli forces during an army-protected settler overnight raid in Nablus.

Israeli forces, accompanied by a military bulldozer, raided the eastern part of the city, shortly before settlers made their way into Joseph's tomb.

Ahmed Shehadeh, 16, was killed and several others wounded after Israeli soldiers fired live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas, according to local media. 

Palestinian fighters said they responded to the raid with gunfire, leading to several street clashes with soldiers. No Israelis were hurt. 

Also on Tuesday, armed Palestinian groups in Jenin withheld the body of an Israeli who died in a car accident in the city earlier in the day. 

The accident took place on Tuesday afternoon, and the body was taken from the Ibn Sina hospital in the occupied West Bank city. The Israeli army is reportedly in talks with the Palestine Authority to return the body. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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