Early Wednesday, two explosions shook Jerusalem, killing a teenager and injuring 18 others in a suspected “combined terror attack.”
According to Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s Red Cross affiliate, the first explosion occurred at a bus station near the entrance to Jerusalem at 7:06 a.m., injuring 12 people, including the teen who died later. The condition of three of the wounded was serious.
Almost half an hour later, at 7:30 a.m., a second explosion occurred at the city’s Ramot junction. MDA reports that three people were evacuated with minor injuries, while four were treated for “stress symptoms.” According to Tom Nides, the US ambassador to Israel, two Americans were injured.
Investigators have determined that explosive devices were placed at both blast sites, and police are searching for suspects.
The Israeli Police spokesperson said Wednesday’s devices were very powerful and most likely detonated remotely by a “well-organized cell.” One device was hidden behind a wall, the other behind a bush.
“The terrorists knew the area well,” according to the spokesperson.
As of yet, no group has claimed responsibility for the incident.
After participating in a situation assessment with security officials, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the incident “different from what we have seen in recent years.”
“An extensive intelligence effort is now underway that will lead us to find these heinous terrorists, those behind them, and those who provided them with weapons,” stated Lapid. “We will find them. They can run, they can hide — it won’t help them; the security forces will reach them. If they resist, they will be eliminated. If not, we will punish them to the fullest extent of the law.”
Authorities identified the victim as 15-year-old Aryeh Shechopek. The family said Shechopek lived in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem and attended a yeshiva. According to Israeli and Canadian authorities, Shechopek also held Canadian citizenship. It was earlier reported that Shechopek was 16 years old by Israeli emergency services.
Lapid expressed his condolences to the family, calling Shechopek “a boy who never wronged anyone in the world.”
“He was murdered simply because he was Jewish,” he stated.
As a result of the attack, 29 people have been killed on the Israeli side of the conflict this year. The West Bank has also seen the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2015. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 146 Palestinian civilians and militants have been killed there in 2022.
Imagery from the scene of the first blast showed debris strewn on the ground and a parked bus with holes pierced through its windscreen. A metal railing surrounding the bus stop was also damaged, and the area was cordoned off.
Paramedics from MDA said they found two seriously injured people lying on the ground at the bus station.
“We were at the MDA station by the entrance to the city when we heard a large explosion,” they recalled. “We immediately headed to the scene in large numbers, including ambulances, MICUs (mobile intensive care units) and medicycles.”
“Two seriously wounded were lying nearby, a 16-year-old in the bus stop and a 45-year-old on the sidewalk.”
The fact that more people were not injured was a “miracle,” according to MDA paramedic Emanuel Stern.
“If the bus would have been full of passengers, or if there were people waiting at the bus stop, this whole incident could have ended very badly,” Stern explained.
A spokesman for United Hatzalah International, a volunteer medic group, told reporters first responders saw a variety of injuries, including some caused by the explosion. Many others were hurt by shrapnel from damaged cars, nails, and ball-bearings – hallmarks of bombs that explode for terror’s sake.
“This is something very very tragic, and it’s something we haven’t seen in a very long time. And we hope that it doesn’t come back to become a routine, or a regular situation,” Poch said. “Everyone should be able to go to work on a regular day without having to worry.”
The US Embassy in Jerusalem condemned in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attacks on public locations in a post on Twitter, while White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “the United States stands with the Government and People of Israel.”
“We condemn unequivocally the acts of terror overnight in Jerusalem,” Jean-Pierre remarked.