By David Saffer
Israeli security forces have begun a manhunt for a terror cell behind two bomb explosions that struck Jerusalem yesterday morning.
Sixteen-year-old yeshiva student Aryeh Schupak of Har Nof died in the first blast at Givat Shaul. Emergency services were treating the wounded as a second blast went off at Ramot Junction 30 minutes later. Over 20 people were injured. Causalities are being treated at local hospitals.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid has vowed to catch the “heinous” terrorists responsible for the attack targeting civilians and commuters. The IDF will also hunt down anyone who provided weapons.
“We will find them,” he said. “They can run, they can hide, it won’t help them. The security forces will reach them. If they resist, they will be eliminated. If not, we will punish them to the fullest extent of the law.”
He added: “The State of Israel has been dealing with terrorism since the day it was founded. Our enemies need to know that we stand united and strong against them. We are one nation that knows how to stand together against those who seek our demise.”
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Schupak at Har Hamenuchot cemetery including Itamar Ben Gvir, former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat and Har Nof Chief Rabbi David Yosef.
Authorities are establishing whether the terror cell entered Israel from the West Bank or are residents of East Jerusalem.
Thousands of police are on duty in Jerusalem and Jenin amidst mounting tension.
Lapid led the condemnation of the attacks by politicians.
President Isaac Herzog said: “This terror attack will not weaken us, it will not make us doubt our belief in our ways, or in our right to a peaceful and safe life in Israel, including in our eternal capital of Jerusalem.”
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to form a right-wing coalition. He tweeted that he was praying for the injured and sent support to security forces “operating on the ground”.
Jewish Power’s Ben-Gvir, issued a statement following the first attack. “It is time to act with determination and a hard hand against the terrorists,” he noted.
Arriving at the scene, he called on Israel to bring back “targeted assassinations”. Ben-Gvir told reporters: “Terror needs to pay a very, very, very high price.”
Religious Zionist party’s Bezalel Smotrich said: “This takes us back to sights that the brain remembers but the heart wants to forget.”
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said the attacks were unlike any seen in recent times.
“Officers are scanning all possibly hazardous areas, whether at bus stations, buses or crowded areas for more bombs,” he said. “We are making an effort to get our hands on whoever committed this terror attack.”
He added: “The goal is to prevent the next explosion. This means bringing all the forces out, not only here, but also to other areas. It could be one terrorist that placed the two explosives, or it could be two. All intelligence services will focus on this issue.”
Deputy Police Commissioner Sigal Bar Zvi, described the bombs as “high quality” explosives.
Witnesses told reporters it reminded them of the “dark days” of the Second Intifada.
The Canadian embassy condemned the “abhorrent terror attacks” whilst the US Embassy stated:
“We are closely monitoring the situation. Terrorism is a dead-end that accomplishes absolutely nothing.”
EU ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev was “horrified” by the attacks. “Terror is never justified,” he tweeted. And UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan was shocked by the terrorist attacks. “The UK stands with Israel against terrorism,” he wrote.
European Jewish Congress President Ariel Muzicant also condemned the attack.
“These cowardly and brutal attacks target innocent civilians and are intended to induce fear and terror,” he said. “They once again demonstrate the real intentions of Palestinian terror organisations, to maim and kill Israelis and Jews wherever they are.”
Hamas welcomed the attacks.
Army Radio news anchor Hadas Shtaif was suspended from covering the attack after reportedly connecting it to coalition negotiations whilst broadcasting.
The station in a statement confirmed an investigation was taking place.
Bicom noted this was the first bombing attack in Jerusalem since April 2016 when a Hamas suicide bomber injured 21 people. That attack was the first one since 2004.
Recent months have seen shootings, stabbings and car rammings. Thirty Israelis have been killed in terror attacks this year and hundreds injured in incidents.
The public is asked to daven for l’ Elchanan ben Livnat and Chaim Nochum ben Feiga Rivka b’toch shaar cholei Yisrael.