Blasts demolish two bus stops near Jerusalem; Israeli forces kill Palestinians in the West Bank

Two explosions at two bus stops near the entrances to Jerusalem on Wednesday morning injured at least 15 people, according to Israeli officials. The blasts came hours after Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank, according to Palestinian health officials.

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The first explosion near the central bus station near Jerusalem’s main entrance in Givat Shaul injured 12 people, two of them seriously. Minutes later, a second explosion at another entrance to Jerusalem injured at least three people, according to Israeli media.

Israeli police said the two blasts appear to be a Palestinian attack and are related.

The explosions came hours after Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian early Wednesday during a nighttime raid in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Ahmed Shehada, 16, was killed by an Israeli bullet that hit his chest. Four other Palestinians were injured during the army raid in the city of Nablus, one seriously, according to the ministry.

The Israeli military said it had no immediate comment.

Violence is increasing in the West Bank

Meanwhile, Palestinians withheld the body of an Israeli civilian killed in a car crash in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, local media reported.

According to the Israeli military, two Israelis entered the city and were taken to a Palestinian hospital after the crash, where one of them died and the other was in serious condition.

The injured man was taken to an Israeli hospital for further treatment, but the body of the one who died was not, the military said. “The body was taken from the hospital in Jenin and is expected to be returned to Israel shortly, as a necessary humanitarian act,” the military said without elaborating.

The dead person was a high school student from an Israeli minority group, it added.

Violence in the West Bank has increased in recent months as Israel has stepped up arrest raids after a series of Palestinian attacks inside Israel killed 19 people last spring. At least ten more Israelis were killed in the latest attacks. During the same period, more than 130 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Israel says most of those killed have been militants. But youths protesting the incursions and people not involved in the fighting have also been killed.

Israel says its near-nightly arrest raids in the West Bank are needed to dismantle militant networks at a time when Palestinian security forces are unable or unwilling to do so. The Palestinians say the raid undermines their security forces and aims to cement Israel’s uninterrupted 55-year occupation of land they want for their long-awaited state.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War and has since maintained a military occupation of the territory, settling more than 500,000 people there. The Palestinians seek the territory, along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, for their long-awaited independent state.

(Axadle with AP and Reuters)

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