Twin bomb blasts hit bus stations in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, killing a 16-year-old and injuring at least 15 others, in what Israeli police said they suspected was a co-ordinated terror attack.
The detonations, which took place during the morning rush hour, are the first bombings in Jerusalem for several years and come at a time of heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
Israel’s outgoing prime minister, Yair Lapid, said that an extensive intelligence effort was under way and pledged that the security forces would “find these heinous terrorists, those behind them and those who provided them with weapons”.
“I want to say to the citizens of Israel: we will find them. They can run, they can hide — it won’t help them; the security forces will reach them,” he said, following a meeting with the heads of Israel’s security services.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the two attacks, but both Hamas, the militant group that controls the enclave of Gaza, and Islamic Jihad, another smaller militant group, praised them.
Police said the first explosion, at shortly after 07.00 local time, targeted a bus station at the Givat Shaul interchange near the main entrance to Jerusalem. It injured 12 people, including the Israeli-Canadian teenager Aryeh Shechopek, who subsequently succumbed to his injuries.
The second blast went off near another bus stop at the Ramot junction half an hour later, injuring three more. Both devices are thought to have been detonated remotely.
Attacks targeting buses and bus stations were a common tactic during the second intifada, a Palestinian uprising that ran from 2000 to 2005, but have been rare in recent years.
Israel’s police commissioner, Yaakov Shabtai, said the incident was a “complex” one “with features of a kind we haven’t seen in a long time”.
“We currently can’t say whether [both bombs were planted by] the same terrorist or two terrorists who committed the [attacks],” he added.
The twin attacks are the latest in a series of violent incidents in Israel this year. Following a spate of deadly Palestinian attacks on Israelis that began in the spring, Israeli security forces have in recent months been carrying out near-nightly raids in the occupied West Bank.
Lapid said that in response to the latest attacks, Israel would reinforce security in Jerusalem in the coming days, and that the army, domestic security agency and police were being deployed to make sure there were no follow-up attacks.
Politicians from a bloc of rightwing parties currently negotiating to form a coalition headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, that will replace Lapid’s outgoing administration, also condemned the bombings.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of the Jewish Power party, who is vying to be appointed internal security minister, said the attacks showed that Israel must “exact a price from the terrorists”.
“We must return the sovereignty to the state of Israel, get back to deterring terrorism,” he said. “Organised terrorism can and should be dealt with. We can and will fight against it.”
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