Canadian officials condemned a “terrorist attack” in Jerusalem on Wednesday after a young Canadian was killed in a series of explosions.
Two blasts went off near bus stops in the city at the height of morning rush hour, killing the Canadian and injuring at least 18, officials said. The first explosion happened at a bus stop on the edge of Jerusalem, while the second went off about a half-hour later in Ramot, a settlement in the city’s north.
The Associated Press reported that the victim was identified as Aryeh Shechopek, a Canadian-Israeli teenager who was heading to a Jewish seminary when the blast went off. Canada’s ambassador to Israel, Lisa Stadelbauer, also confirmed the death on Twitter. There were conflicting reports over Shechopek’s exact age.
“Incredibly saddened to learn about the death of a young Canadian in the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. I’m sending his family and friends my deepest condolences,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet Wednesday morning.
“I’m also thinking of those who were injured. Canada condemns this violence in the strongest possible terms.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly called the explosions a “heinous terrorist attack” in a tweet, adding Canada “stands with the people of Israel.”
“Canada strongly condemns the heinous terrorist attack in Jerusalem that claimed the life of a young Canadian and injured many others,” she said.
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“My heart is with the victims’ family, friends, Jewish communities, and those affected by this tragic attack.”
Security camera footage showed the moment of the first explosion with a sudden cloud of smoke billowing from the bus stop. Television images showed debris strewn around the site, cordoned off by emergency services.
Police said their initial findings showed that shrapnel-laden explosive devices were placed at the two sites. According to Israeli public broadcaster Kan Radio, the bombs were hidden in bags and appeared to have been detonated remotely by mobile phone.
The United Nations, the European Union and the United States also condemned the attacks. Benjamin Netanyahu, now negotiating with allies from religious and right-wing parties to form a new government after elections, said he would do everything to restore security.
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Israel would find 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.”
A spokesperson for Palestinian militant group Hamas praised the Jerusalem explosions, but did not claim responsibility. They linked the blasts to “crimes conducted by the (Israeli) occupation and the settlers.”
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 militant stronghold.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been surging for months. Israel has been conducting night raids in the occupied West Bank that were prompted by a series of attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people in the spring. In recent weeks, there has been an uptick in Palestinian attacks, AP reported.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year. The Israeli army has said most of the Palestinians killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting Israeli army incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.
At least eight Israelis have been killed in the most recent wave of Palestinian attacks.
The Israeli military said Wednesday that Palestinian gunmen opened fire on forces escorting worshippers to a shrine in Nablus, a West Bank city. The troops shot back and a 16-year-old was killed, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with east Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians seek the territories for their hoped-for independent state.
— with files from The Associated Press and Reuters