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Twin blasts near bus stops in Jerusalem on Wednesday have killed one and injured at least 18 people, with Israeli police blaming Palestinian terrorists and Islamist terror group Hamas praising the attacks but stopping short of claiming responsibility.
The first explosion took place near a bus stop on the edge of Jerusalem, where commuters typically crowd as they wait for buses. The second blast occurred in Ramot, a neighborhood in the city’s north.
One person has died from their wounds and four people were seriously injured in the explosions, according to police.
Police spokesman Eli Levi told Army Radio the first blast was caused by a powerful explosive device.
“There has not been such a coordinated attack in Jerusalem for many years,” Levi added.
The twin blasts occurred amid a buzz of rush hour traffic. Video from shortly after the explosions showed debris strewn along the sidewalk as emergency responders rushed the wounded to ambulances standing by with sirens wailing.
“It was a crazy explosion. There is damage everywhere here,” Yosef Haim Gabay, a medic who was at the scene when the first blast occurred, told Army Radio. “I saw people with wounds bleeding all over the place.”
Avi Mayer, former spokesperson for Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said in a post on Twitter that the one person confirmed killed in the attacks was 15-year-old Aryeh Shechopek, a Canadian student living in Jerusalem.
The blasts came as Israeli-Palestinian tensions are high, with an uptick in Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians in recent weeks and an increase in arrest raids by Israeli forces.
So far, 2022 has been the deadliest year since 2006 in terms of Israeli-Palestinian violence, with at least 25 people killed on the Israeli side and have left over 130 Palestinians dead.
Israel has said its almost nightly arrest raids in the West Bank, which began after Palestinian attacks killed 19 Israelis last spring, are needed to dismantle terror networks as Palestinian security forces are unable or unwilling to do so.
Abdel-Latif Al-Qanoua, a spokesman for the Hamas terror group that controls the Gaza Strip and that once carried out suicide bombings against Israelis, praised the Jerusalem explosions but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
The spokesman linked the explosions to “the crimes conducted by the [Israeli] occupation and the settlers.”
In response to the blasts, Israel said it was closing two West Bank crossings to Palestinians near the West Bank city of Jenin, a terrorist stronghold.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.