Twin blasts in Jerusalem kill at least 1, injure 14: officials
At least one person was killed and 14 wounded in two separate explosions targeting bus stops in Jerusalem Wednesday, security and medical officials said, with Israel’s public security minister calling them “attacks.”
An explosion at a bus stop at the western exit from Jerusalem killed a man and wounded 11. A separate blast at another stop a short distance away damaged a bus and wounded three people, the hospitals treating the casualties said.
The twin blasts 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.”
Earlier, Israeli police blamed the initial blast on an explosive device planted at a bus station near the city exit and claimed that the explosions appeared to be a Palestinian attack.
Television images showed debris strewn around the scene of the first blast, which was cordoned off by emergency services.
An AFP photographer at the scene said the blast had ripped a hole through a metal fence behind the bus stop, with an electric scooter and a hat lying on the ground.
The photographer said the second blast had torn through the side of a bus.
Initially, health services said 12 people had been taken to hospital from the first blast, at least two with serious injuries. At least three people were wounded in the second explosion, police said.
Later, Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital said a man had died of his wounds from the first explosion. Doctors were treating another person in critical condition, two seriously wounded and two lightly wounded.
Israel Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev said he spoke with the police chief and was “briefed on the two attacks in Jerusalem.”
The explosions follow months of tension in the occupied West Bank after the Israeli military launched a crackdown in the wake of a series of deadly attacks in Israel.
Tension has also been exacerbated by repeated stand-offs between Muslims and groups of unauthorised Jewish worshippers at the Al Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Al Qanoua said the bombings “resulted from the crimes conducted by the occupation and the settlers”.
“We congratulate our Palestinian people and our people in the occupied city of Jerusalem on the heroic special operation at the bus stop,” he added.
Meanwhile, the European Union’s ambassador to Israel said he was “horrified by the terror attacks”.
“I express my deepest condolences to the family of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to all injured. Terror is never justified,” Dimiter Tzantchev wrote on Twitter.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz was holding consultations with the head of the Shin Bet internal security agency and senior military officials, his office said.
The explosions came as former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu negotiates with allies to form a new right-wing government including members of religious and far-right parties.
Following Wednesday’s explosions, the Israeli military announced two checkpoints near the flashpoint West Bank city of Jenin had been closed.
More to follow