A teenager has died and at least 18 others have been hurt after two explosions near bus stops in Jerusalem, in what police said were suspected attacks by Palestinians.
The first blast occurred near a bus stop on the edge of the city, where many commuters gather during rush hour. The second detonation took place in Ramot, a neighbourhood in the city’s north.
The victim was identified as 15-year-old Aryeh Shechopek, who was heading to a Jewish seminary when the blast went off, according to a notice announcing his death.
The apparent attacks came as Israeli-Palestinian tensions are high, following months of Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank prompted by a spate of deadly attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people. There has been a surge in Palestinian attacks in recent weeks.
The violence also comes as former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds coalition talks after national elections and is likely to form what is expected to be Israel’s most right-wing government.
Police said their initial findings showed that explosive devices were placed at the two sites. The twin blasts occurred amid the buzz of rush hour traffic and police closed part of a main highway leading out of the city, where the first explosion went off.
Video from shortly after the first blast showed debris strewn along the pavement as the wail of ambulances blared.
Yosef Haim Gabay, a medic who was at the scene when the first blast occurred, told Israeli Army Radio:
“It was a crazy explosion. There is damage everywhere here.
“I saw people with wounds bleeding all over the place.”
While Palestinians have carried out stabbings, car rammings and shootings in recent years, bombings have become very rare since the end of a Palestinian uprising nearly two decades ago.
The Islamic militant Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and once carried out suicide bombings against Israelis, praised the perpetrators of the attacks, calling it a heroic operation, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua said: “The occupation is reaping the price of its crimes and aggression against our people.”
Itamar Ben-Gvir, an extremist legislator who has called for the death penalty for Palestinian attackers and who is set to become the minister in charge of police under Mr Netanyahu, said the attack gave him the impetus to take a tougher stance on Palestinian attackers.
“It’s time to take a hard line against terrorists, it’s time to make order,” he tweeted.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2006. The Israeli army said most of the Palestinians killed have been militants.
However, stone-throwing youths protesting against the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.
At least five more Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks in recent weeks.