1 killed as terror bombings target 2 bus stops at entrances to Jerusalem; 18 hurt

Two explosions at a bus stop near the entrance to Jerusalem on Wednesday morning killed one person and wounded at least 18 people, police and medics said.

Police described the explosion as a terrorist attack.

The first explosion occurred near the Jerusalem gate in Givat Shaul, shortly after 7:00 a.m., rush hour.

Twelve people at the bus station were injured in the blast, two seriously and two critically, medical officials said.

One of the victims died at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, hospital officials said.

A second explosion occurred shortly after 7:30 am at Ramot Junction, another entrance to Jerusalem.

Israeli forensic experts work at the site of an explosion in Jerusalem at a bus stop on November 23, 2022. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Three people were seriously injured in the second explosion, and four people were also taken to the hospital due to panic attacks, doctors said.

A transport vehicle at the station was found damaged by the explosion. It is not clear whether the victims were at the station or in the bus.

The blast was believed to have been caused by an explosive device left in a bag, according to initial Hebrew media reports.

While visiting the site, Israeli police commissioner Kobi Shabtai said there may have been two attackers.

“It’s an attack system that we haven’t seen in years,” Shabtai said.

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He called on the public to be on the lookout for suspicious packages, and officials said the city is looking into other devices.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, however, the terrorist group Hamas welcomed the attack.

“The movement conveyed the message of the occupation by saying that our people will stand firm on their land and stick to the path of resistance,” Hamas spokesman Mohammad Hamada said in a statement. .

“The coming days will be tougher and more difficult for the enemy, it is time to create cells that are spread throughout Palestine and ready for conflict,” he added.

Security agencies have swept the area in an attempt to find anyone involved in the blast.

Police said they closed Highway 1 after the first explosion.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev spoke with the police chief and is expected to visit the scene of the attack, his office said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz held an assessment with the head of the Shin Bet security agency, the deputy head of the army and senior military and police officials, after the attack. Prime Minister Yair Lapid was due to make a personal assessment on Wednesday.

Israeli security forces walk in Jerusalem after an explosion at a bus station, November 23, 2022 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

The explosion comes amid heightened tensions, following a series of Palestinian attacks that have claimed 29 lives in Israel and the West Bank since the beginning of the year.

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In recent months there have been several knife attacks and attempted stabbings in Jerusalem, especially in the Old City. Last month, armed Palestinians killed an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint near Jerusalem.

In the spring, the military launched a major counter-terrorism operation in the West Bank after the attack.

The operation resulted in more than 2,000 arrests in overnight raids, but also killed more than 130 Palestinians, many — but not all — during the raids or during clashes with security forces.

Bombings of buses and public places were a hallmark of the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005, but have largely subsided in the last 17 years, which is believed to have the Israeli authorities for increased security measures, including security barriers in the West Bank, and better intelligence.

In 2016, the terrorist group Hamas was accused of bombing a bus in Jerusalem, injuring 21 people. And in 2011, a bomb hidden in a bag exploded in a bus stop outside the Jerusalem International Convention Center, killing two and injuring dozens.

This is a developing story.

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