Explosions hit two bus stops in Jerusalem Wednesday, killing at least one person and wounding 14, in unclaimed attacks cheered by Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The first bombings to hit Jerusalem since 2016, according to security officials, targeted an area frequented by ultra-Orthodox Jews at the western exit from Jerusalem.
A 16-year-old boy was killed and 11 other people wounded in the first blast, before a second hit a stop nearby wounding three people, hospitals treating the casualties said.
An AFP photographer said the blast had ripped a hole through a metal fence behind the bus stop, with an electric scooter and a hat lying on the ground.
The photographer heard the second blast, which he said tore through the side of a bus.
The twin blasts struck half an hour apart, police said. Explosives experts were at the scene with police and forensic scientists collecting evidence.
Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital said a man had died of his wounds from the first explosion. Doctors were treating another person in critical condition, two seriously wounded and two lightly wounded.
Hadassah medical centre said it was treating six people injured in the first blast and another three people lightly wounded in the second.
The driver whose bus was damaged in the second explosion said the stop was “very full” when the blast hit.
“As I was leaving it, I heard a loud explosion. I opened the doors, people ran out. A miracle happened to us,” Motty Gabai told army radio.
– Coalition talks –
As the search for suspects got underway, a security source told AFP the bombs were detonated remotely.
A police spokesperson described the blasts as “a combined terror attack” and said explosive charges were planted at the two bus stops.
Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, praised the bombings.
“We congratulate our Palestinian people and our people in the occupied city of Jerusalem on the heroic special operation at the bus stop,” Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua said.
The bombings hit amid talks on the make-up of a right-wing coalition government being formed by prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, a veteran hawk.
A key ally in the proposed alliance, far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, visited the scene of the blasts.
“We must form a government as soon as possible. The terror is not waiting,” he said.
– ‘Horrified’ –
The European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Dimiter Tzantchev, said he was “horrified by the terror attacks”.
The Shin Bet internal security agency told AFP the blasts were the first in Jerusalem since 2016, with 34 bombings thwarted this year.
During the second intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s, Palestinian militants repeatedly planted bombs at urban bus stops, including in Jerusalem.
Violence has flared in recent months, particularly in the occupied West Bank, where the Israeli army has launched near-daily raids since a series of deadly attacks on Israeli targets earlier this year.
Following Wednesday’s bomb attacks, the Israeli military announced two checkpoints near the flashpoint West Bank city of Jenin had been closed.
An Israeli Druze teenager involved in a car accident in the Jenin area was abducted by Palestinian militants and died as a result, his father said on Wednesday.
“He was still alive, they took him in front of my eyes and I couldn’t do anything,” Hossam Fero told Ynet radio.
Israelis abducted dead or alive have been used in the past as bargaining chips by Palestinian militant groups to secure the release of prisoners or the return of bodies of Palestinians killed in clashes by Israel.