/ Middle East Issued on: 23/11/2022 – 07:39
Israeli security and rescue forces at the scene of an explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem on November 23, 2022. © Ronen Zvulun, Reuters Two explosions at two bus stops near entrances to Jerusalem on Wednesday morning killed one person and wounded at least 15 people, according to Israeli officials. The blasts came hours after Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank, according to Palestinian health officials.
The first explosion near the central bus station close to the main entrance of Jerusalem in Givat Shaul killed a man and wounded 11 people. Minutes later, a second blast at another entrance to Jerusalem injured at least three people, according to Israeli media. Israeli police said the two blasts appear to be a Palestinian attack and are related.
The two explosions struck half an hour apart, police said, noting that explosives experts were at the scene with police and forensic scientists “collecting evidence and scanning the area for suspects.”
The violence came as Israeli-Palestinian tensions mounted following months of Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank. Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding coalition talks after national elections and is likely to form what’s expected to be Israel’s most right-wing government.
Israeli police said their initial findings showed that explosive devices were placed at the two sites. The twin blasts occurred amid the buzz of rush hour traffic and police closed part of a main highway leading out of the city, where the fist explosion went off. Video from shortly after the first blast showed debris strewn along the sidewalk as the wail of ambulances blared.
“It was a crazy explosion. There is damage everywhere here,” Yosef Haim Gabay, a medic who was at the scene when the first blast occurred, told Israeli Army Radio. “I saw people with wounds bleeding all over the place.”
Hamas hails ‘heroic operation’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.
Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip and once carried out suicide bombings 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,” Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua said.
Israel said that in response to the blasts, it was closing two West Bank crossings to Palestinians near the West Bank city of Jenin, a militant stronghold.
Violence mounts in the West BankThe explosions came hours after Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian early Wednesday during a nighttime raid in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Ahmed Shehada, 16, was killed by an Israeli bullet that hit his chest. Four other Palestinians were wounded during the army raid in Nablus city, one seriously, according to the ministry.
The Israeli military said it had no immediate comment.
Meanwhile, Palestinians withheld the body of an Israeli civilian who was killed in a car accident in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, local media reported.
According to the Israeli military, two Israelis entered the city and were taken to a Palestinian hospital following the crash, with one of them dying and the second in serious condition.
The injured man was transferred to an Israeli hospital for further treatment, but the body of the one who died was not, the military said. “The body was taken from the hospital in Jenin and is expected to be returned to Israel shortly, as a required humanitarian act,” the military said, without elaborating.
The dead person was a high school student from an Israeli minority group, it added.
Violence in the West Bank has surged over the past several months as Israel has ramped up arrest raids after a spate of Palestinian attacks within Israel killed 19 people last spring. At least another 10 Israelis were killed in recent attacks. During the same period, more than 130 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Israel says most of those killed have been militants. But youths protesting the incursions and people uninvolved in the fighting have also been killed.
Israel says its almost nightly arrest raids in the West Bank are needed to dismantle militant networks at a time when Palestinian security forces are unable or unwilling to do so. The Palestinians say the raids undermine their security forces and are aimed at cementing Israel’s open-ended 55-year occupation of lands they want for their hoped-for state.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and has since maintained a military occupation over the territory and settled more than 500,000 people there. The Palestinians seek the territory, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, for their hoped-for independent state.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)