MK Ofer Cassif: Teen killed in Jerusalem bombing is a 'victim of the occupation'

"Terrorism is a dead end that accomplishes absolutely nothing, " the US Office of Palestinian Affairs wrote on social media after the bombings in Jerusalem.

 MK Ofer Cassif reacts during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on January 19, 2022. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
MK Ofer Cassif reacts during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on January 19, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Hadash-Ta'al MK Ofer Cassif has come under fire in the Knesset on Wednesday afternoon after calling 16-year-old Aryeh Shechopek, who was killed in the Jerusalem bombings, a "victim of the occupation."

Speaking about the terror attack, Cassif said he wanted to "express my sorrow for the incessant bloodshed, and offer my condolences to all the victims of the occupation - Jews and Palestinians alike."

Following the deadly bombings at two locations in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, Israeli politicians and diplomats have begun issuing statements and responding to the attacks.

First to arrive on the scene of the explosion was Otzma Yehudit faction leader MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is expected to receive the portfolio of public security minister in the incoming government coalition.

"It is a hard morning. We are experiencing a chain of events that did not start this morning," he said at the scene.

"They murdered Tiran [Ferro] yesterday and kidnapped his body. An attack in Ariel, two attacks in Kiryat Arba and all the attacks in previous months, in which, miraculously we do not count dozens of victims."

 Otzma Yehudit head MK Itamar Ben-Gvir at the scene of the terror attack in the entrance to Jerusalem, November 23, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Otzma Yehudit head MK Itamar Ben-Gvir at the scene of the terror attack in the entrance to Jerusalem, November 23, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

"I, of course, share in the families' grief, am wishing for a full recovery for all the injured and say in the plainest terms: We need to break this chain, we need them to pay a price for terrorism. This means returning to the targeted threats, it means stopping the abuses in the prisons. To exact a price for terrorism means that everything has to be closed in the mornings at the security prisons."

He also visited the wounded in the hospital and spoke with their families.

Responding to the news of the attacks via Twitter, prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is "praying to the health of the injured people, in the coordinated terror attack in Jerusalem this morning and send my support to the security forces who are operating on the ground."

Speaker of the Knesset and former Jerusalem Police Commander Mickey Levy added his voice to those condemning the attack, saying: "A difficult morning in our beloved Jerusalem, who had known difficult days in the past. I wish for a fast recovery for the injured people and send my support to the dear people of the city.

"This is the place to call everyone to remain aware and to report security forces on every suspicious thing you see. I have no doubt that the security forces will get any terrorist involved in the attack."

Israeli Labor Party leader, MK Merav Michaeli, also made a statement. "A dreadful terror attack this morning in our capital. Deepest condolences to the family of the victim and a speedy recovery to the injured, whose lives the medical teams are fighting for. The security forces will do everything to locate the terrorists and bring them to justice for this despicable attack." 

Shas leader Aryeh Deri responded to the attack and the news of the death of 15-year-old Aryeh Shtsupak saying he was "shocked and pained" to hear of the death of the teen.

Canadian officials react to the death of Shechopek

"Incredibly saddened to learn about the death of a young Canadian in the terrorist attack in Jerusalem," wrote Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "I’m sending his family and friends my deepest condolences. I’m also thinking of those who were injured. Canada condemns this violence in the strongest possible terms."

Israel in Canada responded to the attacks first by sending condolences to those impacted, as well as the victim's family, Canadian yeshiva student Aryeh Shchoupik.

Canada's ambassador to Israel, Lisa Stadelbauer, condemned the attack in Jerusalem, saying: "Following with concern reports of the terror attack this morning at a bus stop in Jerusalem. Canada condemns terrorism and calls for a de-escalation in current tensions and violence," she wrote.

Diplomats around the world respond

Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement denouncing the attack. "We are saddened by the news that one person lost his life and many people were injured in the bomb attacks that took place in Jerusalem this morning. We condemn this terrorist attack targeting civilians, wish a speedy recovery to the injured, and extend our condolences," they wrote in a press release. "We are deeply concerned about the recently escalating tension and loss of lives in Jerusalem and the West Bank."

Dimiter Tzantchev, the European Union's ambassador to Israel made a similar statement.

"Horrified by the terror attacks in Jerusalem that killed one person and left many people injured, including some in critical and serious conditions. I express my deepest condolences to the family of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to all injured. Terror is never justified," he wrote via Twitter.

Poland's embassy in Israel wrote, "Deeply shocked and saddened by the bombing attacks this morning in #Jerusalem. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families."

The United Arab Emirates' Embassy in Tel Aviv condemned the attack and offered condolences to the victims and their loved ones as well as a speedy recovery to the injured.

Explosion at the entrance to Jerusalem (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)Explosion at the entrance to Jerusalem (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Belgium's embassy in Israel tweeted, "Shocked and saddened by the news coming from Jerusalem this morning. Our thoughts go to those that were injured in this horrible attack."

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly reacted to the attack on Wednesday afternoon, tweeting "Horrific news coming out of Jerusalem this morning. At least 22 injured and a teenager murdered in two senseless bombing attacks."

"My thoughts are with all those affected. We must see an end to rising violence and instability in Israel and the OPTs," wrote Cleverly.

Italy's Ambassador to Israel Sergio Barbanti stated that he was "deeply shocked" by the terrorist attack, adding "random killing of civilians is one of the worst crimes, vile and unjustifiable. My thoughts are with the families of the victims."

In messages written both in Hebrew and English, Japan's embassy wrote, "We strongly condemn the terror attacks this morning in #Jerusalem and wish to express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and a hope for the quick recovery of all those injured."

The Russian embassy turned to social media to inform constituents about the terrorist attack, and that they were actively looking to identify any Russian nationals that may have been victims. After the body of a yeshiva student was identified as the victim, 16-year-old Aryeh Shtsupak, the embassy released another message.

"On our part, we express our sincere condolences to the relatives of the deceased and wishes for a speedy recovery to all those affected."

Amnesty International's Israel office stated that it was "shocked and pained" by the terrorist attack, calling on Israel to avoid a reaction that would "harm civilians."

"Any attack on civilians or the core of a civilian population is a violation of international law and may constitute a war crime," said Amnesty Israel.

"We call on the authorities in Israel and the Palestinian Authority to urgently bring those responsible to justice. However, past experience shows that the Israeli authorities make use of the security alert and the need to protect civilians, to commit blatant violations of the human rights of Palestinians in the Israeli occupied territories," added the organization.

"The blatant violation and separation between the two populations in the occupied territories - Israeli and Palestinian - is defined as an apartheid-type crime. We must not artificially separate this oppression from the terrible violence that harms the lives of Israeli and Palestinian citizens alike."