JERUSALEM, Israel – A Palestinian terrorist emerged from a car and opened fire near a synagogue in eastern Jerusalem Friday evening as Jerusalemites were walking for Sabbath services at the end of World Holocaust Remembrance Day, killing 7 people and wounding three others.
It's one of the city's worst attacks Jerusalem has seen in years, and it touched off celebrations, both in Palestinian West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip.
Police shot and killed the gunman in a nearby Arab neighborhood. He has been identified by Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, as Alqam Khayri, a 21-year-old resident of eastern Jerusalem.
The attack came one day after Israel's military conducted a rare daytime raid on Palestinian terrorist cells in the northern Israeli city of Jenin, killing 9 people, including at least 7 suspected terrorists from Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Israeli officials said the raid was based on knowledge of a planned attack on Israeli citizens.
Netanyahu, speaking at police headquarters after visiting the site, called the shooting “one of the most severe we have known in years.” He said, “Our hearts are with the families. I commend the police officers who took action so quickly," and added “We must act with determination and composure. I call on people not to take the law into their own hands.”
The prime minister said he will convene Israel's Security Cabinet to prepare a detailed response after the Sabbath ends on Saturday evening.
The shooting took place in the heavily ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Neve Yaakov. Observant Jews do not drive after sunset on the Sabbath, so many people were on foot. Officials say the gunmen fled in a car after the shooting, then was later killed trying to get out of the car.
According to Israel's rescue service, 5 men and 2 women lost their lives in the attack. Several were said to be age 60 or older. A 15 year-old boy is recovering from surgery.
In Washington, the White House released a statement condemning the attack, noting it took place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
"We strongly condemn the heinous terror attack that took place this evening at a synagogue in Jerusalem and are shocked and saddened by the loss of life, including the killing of at least eight innocent victims," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in the statement.
U.S. officials said President Joe Biden called Friday to offer both support and condolences to Netanyahu, describing the event "an attack against the civilized world."
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called for preparations to bolster police and security defenses around Jerusalem. He said, “Israel’s defense establishment will operate decisively and forcefully against terror and will reach anyone involved in the attack.”
In Gaza City, car horns honked, and mosque loudspeakers blared out the message, "God is great!" Hamas Spokesman Hazem Qassem said the shooting was "a revenge and a natural response" to Israel's Thursday raid in Jenin.
In the West Bank, residents launched fireworks in celebration of the shooting.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due in the region Sunday to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials. The attack is likely to change the agenda items to defense-related topics and reducing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
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