Jerusalem: One person was killed and 21 others injured in two separate explosions at bus stops at the entrances to Jerusalem on Wednesday, in what seemed like a coordinated terror attack, Israeli police and rescue officials said.
The first explosion occurred close to the main entrance of Jerusalem in Givat Shaul, shortly after 7 AM when people were on the way to their offices and students to their educational institutions.
Seventeen people at the bus stop were injured in the blast, including two critically and two seriously, medical officials said.
One of the victims later died at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, hospital officials said.
A second blast occurred shortly after at 7:30 AM at Ramot junction, another entrance to Jerusalem, which is normally jam-packed in the morning. Four people were injured in the explosion.
The devices were packed with nails to maximise casualties and controlled by nearly identical remote devices, the police said in its initial response.
Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said that “this is a framework of attack that we haven’t seen for many years”.
He called on the public to be alert for suspicious packages and said officers were scanning the city for other possible devices.
It seemed like a coordinated terror attack, he said.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility, however, the Hamas terror group hailed the twin attacks.
“The action conveyed the message to the occupation by saying that our people will stand firm on their land and cling to the path of resistance,” Mohammad Hamada, a Hamas spokesperson said in a statement.
The main road leading to Jerusalem was closed as the police launched a massive search operation.
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev spoke with the police chief and was expected to visit the scenes of the attacks, his office said.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz held an assessment with the Shin Bet security agency chief, deputy army chief, and other senior military and police officials, following the attack.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid was to hold a separate assessment later in the day.
The explosions come amid a tense phase of instability when concerns have been raised about a weakening Palestinian Authority and its slipping control over the West Bank.
The past several months have seen a series of attacks in Israel leaving 29 people dead.
The Israeli military has been carrying out a major anti-terror offensive in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank following the attacks which have left over 130 Palestinians dead.
More than 2,000 Palestinians have also been apprehended in these raids since the beginning of the year.