ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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In false alarm, entrance to Jerusalem briefly shut after suspected pipe bomb found

Incident comes with city on high alert as manhunt continues for terror cell behind Wednesday’s deadly double bombing

Police sappers deal with a suspected pipe bomb at the entrance to Jerusalem on November 26, 2022. The device proved not to be a bomb. (Israel Police)
Police sappers deal with a suspected pipe bomb at the entrance to Jerusalem on November 26, 2022. The device proved not to be a bomb. (Israel Police)

Police on Saturday shut a main entrance to Jerusalem after a suspected pipe bomb was found near the iconic Chords Bridge amid heightened tension following the deadly blasts in the city earlier in the week.

Police said that during patrols an item that looked like a small pipe bomb was found. Police cordoned off the area and sappers were called in to deal with the device.

The suspected bomb was taken for inspection and police later said it was not an explosive device.

The area was then reopened to pedestrian and motor traffic.

The incident comes with the city on high alert as the manhunt continued for a suspected terror cell that detonated explosive devices at two bus stops in Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing a teenager and wounding more than 20 others.

Police said in a statement that officers from the force, along with the Shin Bet, were looking for “anyone involved” in the terror attack.

Immediately after the deadly bombing, it was ordered that the number of officers across Jerusalem be ramped up, especially in crowded areas.

Police said Friday they aimed to increase the police presence throughout the city to give “a sense of security to all the city’s residents and visitors.”

There was to be a particular emphasis on places of worship, shopping centers and recreation sites that were expected to be busy over the weekend.

Police said that while the public should not panic, they should remain alert and report any suspicious activity or individuals.

16-year-old Aryeh Schupak, killed in a bombing attack at the entrance of Jerusalem, November 23, 2022. (Courtesy)

A 16-year-old yeshiva student, Aryeh Schupak, was killed and 22 people were hurt in the two attacks, including one person listed as critical and another three in serious-moderate condition, according to medical officials.

The first explosion occurred close to the main entrance of Jerusalem in Givat Shaul, shortly after 7 a.m., a peak commuter hour. The second blast occurred shortly after 7:30 a.m., at Ramot Junction, where heavily trafficked roads meet, in the capital’s northwest.

Schupak, who was killed in the first bombing, was a dual Israeli-Canadian citizen.

The head of the police operations division said the “two high-quality, powerful explosive devices [capable of] a high level of damage” were hidden behind the bus stop and in a bush. The remotely detonated devices were packed with nails and ball bearings to maximize casualties, according to police officials.

No terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

On Thursday, previously unseen footage of the attack was posted on the Telegram social media service by an Iranian hacker group that said the film came from surveillance cameras used by a major Israeli security organization.

Footage from a surveillance camera shows a deadly bombing attack in Jerusalem, November 24, 2022. The video was published by an Iranian hacker group. (Screenshot: Telegram)

Details of the investigation into the bombing were placed under a gag order by a court at the request of police.

Due to the nature of the attacks, with two near-identical bombs exploding within half an hour of each other at two bus stops, Deputy Commissioner Sigal Bar Zvi said Wednesday police suspected an organized cell was behind it, rather than just one person.

The bombings came during a time of heightened tensions, following a series of Palestinian attacks that left 30 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year, including Wednesday’s attack.

Israeli police inspect the scene of a terrorist bombing at a bus stop in Jerusalem, November 23, 2022. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)

In recent months, there have been several stabbing and attempted stabbing attacks in Jerusalem, mostly in the Old City. Last month, a Palestinian gunman killed an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint near Jerusalem.

In the spring, the military launched a major anti-terror offensive in West Bank following the attacks.

The operation has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids, but has left over 130 Palestinians dead, many of them — though not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

Bombings on buses and in public places were a hallmark of the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005, but mostly subsided over the last 17 years, which Israeli officials attributed to increased security measures, including the West Bank security barrier, and better intelligence.

In 2016, the Hamas terror group was accused of bombing a bus in Jerusalem, leaving 21 people injured. And in 2011, a bomb hidden in a backpack exploded at a bus stop outside the Jerusalem International Convention Center, killing two and injuring dozens more.

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