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Twin blasts shake Jerusalem, killing teen and wounding 18

Twin blasts shake Jerusalem, killing teen and wounding 18


Twin blasts shake Jerusalem, killing teen and wounding 18

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

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. Police said one person died from their wounds and at least three were seriously wounded in the blasts.

The victim was identified as Aryeh Shechopek, a teenager who was heading to a Jewish seminary when the blast went off, according to a notice announcing his death. Shechopek was also a Canadian citizen, according to Canada's Ambassador to Israel Lisa Stadelbauer. There were conflicting reports over Shechopek's exact age.

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.

The violence occurred hours after Palestinian terrorists 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 Israel 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.”

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 twin blasts occurred amid the buzz of rush hour traffic and police briefly closed part of a main highway leading out of the city, where the first explosion went off. Video from shortly after the initial blast showed debris strewn along the sidewalk as the wail of ambulances blared. A bus in Ramot was pocked with what looked like shrapnel marks.

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 terrorist stronghold.

In Jenin late Tuesday, terrorists 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 while still alive. The Israeli military said the young man was already dead when he was taken.

“It was something horrendous. It was something that was inhumane," Husam Ferro, the teen'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 talks were underway on the body's return to the family. Palestinian militants have in the past carried out kidnappings to seek concessions from Israel. Lapid said the terrorists 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.