The most recent attack that killed several people was just a week ago. Now two explosive devices explode in Jerusalem. Some Israeli politicians are already calling for tougher action.
A youth was killed and at least 18 others injured in bomb attacks at two bus stops in the greater Jerusalem area. Among them are several seriously injured, as the Israeli rescue service Magen David Adom announced on Wednesday. The police spoke of the suspicion of a combined attack.
“This incident is unlike what we have seen in recent years,” said outgoing Prime Minister Jair Lapid after an emergency meeting with police and military leaders. Those responsible will be held accountable. A comparable attack with explosive devices had not taken place in Jerusalem for years.
The first explosion occurred early in the morning at a bus stop on the outskirts of the city. A 16-year-old was killed and eleven people injured. Shortly thereafter, another explosion took place at a bus stop in Ramot, north of the city, injuring at least seven people. According to media reports, there is evidence that the explosive devices were remotely detonated. In order to cause as many victims as possible, they should have been filled with nails and screws.
More vigilance required
The search for suspects is ongoing, the police said and increased their alertness. Police commissioner Jaakov Schabtai called for more vigilance. Suspicious objects should be reported and not touched. Lapid announced that it would increase the number of security forces in the Jerusalem area in the coming days.
Initially, no group claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, the Palestinian organization Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, praised it in a statement as a “heroic operation”. They are “the result of the ongoing crimes committed by the occupation and the settlers against Palestinians”.
In recent decades, Jerusalem has repeatedly been the scene of serious attacks, including on passenger buses – especially during the second intifada between 2000 and 2005. Most recently, in 2016, 21 people were injured in a bomb attack on a bus in Jerusalem. In 2011, two people were also killed by an explosive device in a backpack at a bus stop.
Netanyahu: “Murderful Terror”
Israel’s prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said after a meeting with Lapid: “We are dealing with murderous terror that is rearing its head again. We will do everything we can to quickly restore the security of all Israeli citizens.” Coalition talks are currently underway in Israel.
The far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir – who is aiming for the post of Minister for Internal Security in the new government – called on Wednesday, among other things, for a return to targeted killings and a tightening of prison conditions for militant Palestinians in Israel. Those responsible would have to pay a “price for terror”.
A spokesman for the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin said: “The heinous attacks on bus stops in Jerusalem are an attack on the peaceful everyday life of all Israelis. The terror and hatred they are intended to spread must not gain the upper hand.” A White House spokeswoman offered the Israeli government US assistance in the investigation and expressed her condolences.
Already several fatalities this year
At least 26 people have died in attacks in Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank this year, including several soldiers and security forces. Last week, three Israeli men were killed in an attack near an Israeli settler town in the West Bank. According to the military, an 18-year-old Palestinian attacked several people with a knife in two places.
Since the beginning of a wave of terror in the spring, Israel’s army has also been carrying out increased raids in the occupied West Bank. According to the Ministry of Health in Ramallah, more than 140 Palestinians have died this year in connection with military operations, in clashes or in their own attacks.
Reports of the kidnapping of the body of an Israeli citizen from a hospital in the Palestinian city of Jenin also caused a stir on Wednesday. It was unclear whether or not the young man was alive at the time of the kidnapping. The military announced on Wednesday morning that the 18-year-old civilian had died in a car accident. However, later allegations were made by the family that the kidnappers disconnected the young man from a ventilator and then took his body with them. Lapid announced that the kidnappers would pay a heavy price if the body was not returned. The city of Jenin is considered a stronghold of militant Palestinians.