Police closed a main entrance to Jerusalem on Saturday after a suspected pipe bomb was found near the iconic Chords Bridge amid heightened tension following deadly explosions in the city earlier in the week.
Police said during patrols an object that looked like a small pipe bomb was found. Police cordoned off the area and firefighters were called in to deal with the device.
The suspected bomb was taken in for inspection and police later said it was not an explosive device.
The area was later reopened to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
The incident comes as the city is on high alert as the manhunt continues for a suspected terror cell that detonated explosive devices at two bus stops in Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing a teenager and injuring more than 20 others.
Police said in a statement that officers from the force, as well as the Shin Bet, were looking for “anyone involved” in the terror attack.
Immediately after the deadly bombing, orders were issued to increase the number of officers in Jerusalem, especially in overcrowded areas.
Police said on Friday they aimed to increase police presence throughout the city to give “a sense of safety to all residents and visitors to the city.”
Particular emphasis was to be placed on places of worship, shopping malls and leisure sites which were expected to be busy over the weekend.
Police said while the public should not panic, they should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or individuals.
A 16-year-old yeshiva student, Aryeh Schupak, was killed and 22 people were injured in the two attacks, including one person listed as critical and three others in serious to moderate condition, according to medical officials.
The first explosion occurred near Jerusalem’s main entrance at Givat Shaul, shortly after 7 a.m., a peak hour for commuters. The second explosion occurred shortly after 7:30 a.m. at Ramot Junction, where busy roads intersect, in the northwest of the capital.
Schupak, who was killed in the first bombing, was a dual Canadian-Israeli citizen.
The head of the police operations division said that “two powerful and high quality explosive devices [capable of] high level of damage” were hidden behind the bus stop and in a bush. The remote-triggered devices were filled with nails and ball bearings to maximize casualties, police officials said.
No terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Never-before-seen footage of the attack was posted on social media service Telegram by an Iranian hacker group on Thursday, which said the footage came from surveillance cameras used by a major Israeli security organization.
Details of the bombing investigation have been placed under gag order by a court at the request of police.
Due to the nature of the attacks, with two nearly identical bombs exploding within half an hour of each other at two bus stops, Deputy Commissioner Sigal Bar Zvi said Wednesday that police suspected that an organized cell was behind, rather than a single person.
The bombings came during a time of heightened tensions, following a series of Palestinian attacks that have claimed 30 lives in Israel and the West Bank since the start of the year, including Wednesday’s attack .
In recent months, there have been several attacks and attempted stabbings in Jerusalem, primarily in the Old City. Last month, a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint near Jerusalem.
In the spring, the army launched a major counterterrorism offensive in the West Bank following the attacks.
The operation resulted in more than 2,000 arrests in near-night raids, but left more than 130 Palestinians dead, many – but not all – in attacks or in clashes with security forces.
Bombings of buses and public places were a feature of the second intifada from 2000 to 2005, but have mostly declined over the past 17 years, which Israeli officials have attributed to measures of increased security, including the security fence in the West Bank, and better intelligence.
In 2016, the Hamas terror group was accused of bombing a bus in Jerusalem, injuring 21 people. And in 2011, a bomb hidden in a backpack exploded at a bus stop outside the Jerusalem International Convention Center, killing two people and injuring dozens more.
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