Los Angeles Times

Twin blasts in Jerusalem kill Israeli teen, injure 18

- By Alon Bernstein and Tia Goldenberg Bernstein and Goldenberg write for the Associated Press and reported from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, respective­ly. AP writers Isaac Scharf in Jerusalem, Eleanor H. Reich in Tel Aviv and Jalal Bwaitel in Ramallah, West Ban

JERUSALEM — Two blasts went off near bus stops in Jerusalem at the height of morning rush hour Wednesday, killing a Canadian Israeli teenager and injuring at least 18 people, in what police said were attacks by Palestinia­ns.

The first explosion occurred near a typically crowded bus stop on the edge of the city. The second went off about half an hour later in Ramot, a settlement in the city’s north. Israeli police said the blasts left four people seriously wounded, one of them fatally.

The victim was identified as Aryeh Schupak, 15, who was heading to a Jewish seminary when the blast went off, according to a notice announcing his death. Schupak was also a Canadian citizen, according to Canadian Ambassador Lisa Stadelbaue­r.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinia­ns have been surging for months amid nightly Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank prompted by a spate of deadly attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people in the spring.

There has also been an uptick in recent weeks in Palestinia­n attacks. Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinia­ns after what Israel said was an armed attack in the occupied West Bank.

The violence occurred hours after Palestinia­n militants stormed a West Bank hospital and carried out an Israeli citizen seeking treatment there after a car accident, according to the young man’s father. That incident could further ratchet up tensions.

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said authoritie­s would track down the attackers.

“They can run, they can hide — it won’t help them,” he said in a statement. “We will punish them to the fullest extent of the law.”

The developmen­ts took place as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding coalition talks after national elections and is likely to return to power as head of what’s expected to be Israel’s most right-wing government.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, an extremist lawmaker who has called for the death penalty for Palestinia­n attackers and who is set to become the minister in charge of police under Netanyahu, said the attack meant Israel needed to take a tougher stance on Palestinia­n violence.

“We must exact a price from terror,” he said at the scene of the first explosion. “We must return to be in control of Israel, to restore deterrence against terror.”

Police, who were searching for the suspected attackers, said their initial findings showed that shrapnel-laden explosive devices were placed at the two sites. The police said it deployed additional officers to the city in the aftermath of the blasts.

Video from shortly after the initial blast showed debris strewn along the sidewalk as ambulance sirens blared. A bus in Ramot was pocked with what looked like shrapnel marks.

“It was a crazy explosion,” Yosef Haim Gabay, a medic who was at the scene of the first blast, told Israel’s Army Radio. “I saw people with wounds bleeding all over the place.”

While Palestinia­ns have carried out stabbings, car rammings and shootings in recent years, bombing attacks have become very rare since the end of a Palestinia­n uprising nearly two decades ago.

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem condemned the violence, as did the European Union’s ambassador, Dimiter Tzantchev.

The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and once carried out suicide bombings against Israelis, praised the attack perpetrato­rs but stopped short of claiming responsibi­lity.

“The occupation is reaping the price of its crimes and aggression against our people,” Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua said.

Israel said that in response to the blasts, it was closing two West Bank crossings to Palestinia­ns near the West Bank city of Jenin, a militant stronghold.

In Jenin late Tuesday, militants entered a hospital and removed the Israeli teen wounded in a car accident. The young man, 17, was from Israel’s Druze minority. His father, who was in the hospital room with him, said the militants disconnect­ed him from hospital equipment and took him. The Israeli military said the teenager was already dead when he was taken.

“It was something horrendous. It was something that was inhumane,” Husam Ferro, the boy’s father, told Israeli news site Ynet. “He was still alive, and they took him in front of my eyes and I couldn’t do anything.”

A Druze community leader told Ynet that talks were underway on the body’s return to the family. Lapid said the militants would “pay a heavy price” if the body was not returned.

Palestinia­n officials either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

More than 130 Palestinia­ns have been killed in Israeli-Palestinia­n fighting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year, making it the deadliest since 2006. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinia­ns killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting Israeli army incursions and others not involved in confrontat­ions have also been killed.

At least eight Israelis have been killed in the most recent wave of Palestinia­n attacks.

The Israeli military said Wednesday that Palestinia­n gunmen opened fire on forces escorting worshipers to a controvers­ial shrine in the West Bank city of Nablus overnight. The troops fired back, killing two people.

 ?? Ohad Zwigenberg Haaretz ?? ISRAELI police investigat­e one of the blast sites. The attack came amid a rise in tensions with Palestinia­ns.
Ohad Zwigenberg Haaretz ISRAELI police investigat­e one of the blast sites. The attack came amid a rise in tensions with Palestinia­ns.

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