The first explosion occurred near a bus stop on the edge of the city, where commuters usually crowd waiting for buses, Israel Police said on its Twitter account. The second went off in Ramot, a neighborhood in the city’s north, the force added.
“The scene was one of chaos. There were people screaming,” Raphael Poch, a spokesperson for United Hatzalah, a free, volunteer-based emergency medical services organization, told NBC News.
“People were suffering from blast injuries, injuries from shrapnel,” he said.
“One of the people who was injured, unfortunately later passed away in the hospital. We were able to stabilize them for a short time here together with the ambulance service and then transfer them to hospital,” he added.
Separately police tweeted that, “14 civilians were injured at the scenes and evacuated for medical treatment.”
The apparent attacks came amid heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions, following months of Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank prompted by a spate of attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people, according to The Associated Press, which did not specify a time period for these deaths. There has been an uptick in recent weeks in Palestinian attacks.
More than 130 Palestinians have also been killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2006, according to the United Nations which started tracking fatalities in 2005.
The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.
Police said their initial findings about Wednesday’s explosions, showed that explosive devices were placed at the two sites. The blasts happened amid the buzz of rush hour traffic and police closed part of a main highway leading out of the city, where the first explosion went off.
Video from shortly after the first blast showed debris strewn along the sidewalk as the wail of ambulances blared.
“It was a crazy explosion. There is damage everywhere here,” Yosef Haim Gabay, a medic who was at the scene when the first blast occurred, told Israeli Army Radio. “I saw people with wounds bleeding all over the place.”
The Islamic militant Hamas, which rules the blockaded Gaza Strip and once carried out suicide bombings against Israelis, praised the perpetrators of the attacks, calling it a heroic operation, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
“The occupation is reaping the price of its crimes and aggression against our people,” Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua said.
While Palestinians have carried out stabbings, car rammings and shootings in recent years, bombings have become very rare since the end of a Palestinian uprising nearly two decades ago.
Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid condemened the attacks.
“An extensive intelligence effort is now underway that will lead us to find these heinous terrorists, those behind them, and those who provided them with weapons,” he said in a statement.
The violence comes as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds coalition talks after national elections and is likely to form what’s expected to be Israel’s most right-wing government.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, an extremist lawmaker who has called for the death penalty for Palestinian attackers and who is set to become the minister in charge of police under Netanyahu, said the attack gave him impetus to take a tougher stance on Palestinian attackers.
“It’s time to take a hard line against terrorists, it’s time to make order,” he tweeted.
The White House also condemned the attacks.
“We mourn the reported loss of life and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
We condemn unequivocally the acts of terror overnight in Jerusalem. The United States has offered all appropriate assistance to the Government of Israel as it investigates the attack and works to being the perpetrators to justice.
Paul Goldman reported from Jerusalem and Henry Austin from London.
Henry Austin is a London-based editor for NBC News Digital.