On Wednesday morning, two bombs planted near bus stops in the Jerusalem area exploded, killing a 16-year-old Canadian-Israeli and wounding almost two dozen people. Palestinian militant groups based in Gaza praised the attack, but did not claim responsibility for the bombings.
The first explosion occurred shortly after 7:00 a.m. local time in the neighborhood of Givat Shaul. At approximately 7:30 a.m. the second bomb exploded at Ramot Junction. Israeli police said the assault was masterminded by an “organized cell” and described the bombs as “high quality” that were packed with nails and remotely detonated.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid described the attacks as “different” from what had been experienced in recent years. Lapid went on to say Israeli authorities were conducting “extensive intelligence efforts” to locate the attackers and the infrastructure supporting them. Though he stopped short of blaming a specific militant organization for the bombing.
There are several actors that could be responsible for the bombings. Due to the sophisticated method of the assault, it’s unlikely it was orchestrated by an individual(s) without the support of an organization. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are likely to be the first organizations scrutinized by Israeli authorities. Both have a long history of bombings against civilian targets in Israel and have the needed infrastructure to support such an act.
While the Gaza front has been relatively quiet since August, Hamas has not stopped its efforts to launch strikes against Israeli civilians. Last month, Israeli authorities dismantled cells in the West Bank directed by Hamas operatives in Gaza. The cells were accused of shooting attacks against Israeli citizens in the West Bank. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Hamas Operatives in Gaza Continue to Direct Attacks in the West Bank.]
A state-sponsored act of terrorism should not be ruled out. Specifically, Iran has held Israel responsible for the deaths of a number of nuclear scientists and members of the IRGC. For example, on Wednesday, the IRGC announced that Colonel Davoud Jafari, a member of its Aerospace division, was killed in a road-side bomb near the Syrian capital of Damascus on Monday. The IRGC blamed Israel for the assault and vowed a response.
Lastly, the Jerusalem bombings have already been used to produce incitement material by some Palestinian militant organizations. In one example, Jaysh al-Islam, a Salafist-jihadi organization based in Gaza, disseminated a video showing how to build an explosive device using chlorine, citric acid and nails. This type of incitement by militant organizations is common after significant attacks in Israel and more will likely be produced over the coming days and weeks.
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