Gunman kills at least 7 people in occupied East Jerusalem attack


A gunman opened fire and killed at least seven people at a synagogue in occupied East Jerusalem before being shot, raising fears of another round of deadly violence between the Israelis and Palestinians.

After Friday’s shooting, the Magen David Adom emergency service said it was treating 10 wounded, some in critical condition.

“What we understand happened was a car pulled up at the front of a synagogue, a gunman got out and opened fire,” Al Jazeera’s James Bays reported from the scene. “The figures we have now are seven people dead, including a 15-year-old boy.”

Police said the suspect had no previous “security record”, said Bays.

There was no initial claim of responsibility. The emergency response agency reported a total of 10 gunshot victims, including a 70-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy.

Israeli police said the attack occurred in Neve Yaakov, a Jewish area in occupied East Jerusalem. TV footage showed several victims lying on the road outside the synagogue being tended to by emergency workers.

“I heard a lot of bullets,” Matanel Almalem, an 18-year-old student who lives near the synagogue, told AFP news agency.

A police statement said there was “terror attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem … The shooting terrorist was neutralised [killed]”.

The attack followed a deadly Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank on Thursday in the Jenin refugee camp. Nine Palestinians were killed, including an elderly woman, after dozens of Israeli soldiers attacked a house containing suspected fighters, leading to several hours of intense fighting.

Gaza fighters then fired rockets and Israel carried out air raids overnight, but the exchange was limited.

‘A natural response’

In Gaza, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem told the Reuters news agency Friday’s attack was “a response to the crime conducted by the occupation in Jenin and a natural response to the occupation’s criminal actions”. He stopped short of claiming the shooting.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad also praised but did not take responsibility for the attack.

Israeli military raids have become commonplace over the last year with at least 200 Palestinians – fighters and civilians – killed.

Israeli civilians and troops have also been killed in attacks by Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.

Friday’s shooting came amid heightened tensions. Palestinians marched in anger as they buried the last of the Palestinians killed by Israeli troops the day earlier.

Scuffles between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters erupted after the funeral for a 22-year-old Palestinian north of Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank.

Crowds of Palestinians waved the flags of both Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, which rules Gaza. In the streets of the town called al-Ram, masked Palestinians threw stones and set off fireworks at Israeli police who responded with tear gas.

Deadliest since 2008

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir attended the scene soon after Friday’s attack. “We need to react, the situation cannot go on like this,” he said.

There was no immediate response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel’s opposition leader, former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, called it “horrific and heartbreaking”.

The shooting was the deadliest on Israelis since a 2008 attack killed eight people in a Jewish seminary, according to Israel’s foreign ministry. Given the location and timing, it threatened to trigger a tough response from Israel.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant scheduled a meeting with his army chief and other top security officials.

Months of violence in the occupied West Bank have heightened concerns the already unpredictable conflict may spiral out of control, triggering a broader confrontation between Palestine and Israel.

Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several smaller skirmishes since the group took power in Gaza in 2007. Tensions have soared since Israel stepped up raids in the West Bank last spring.__Al Jazeera