At least seven people were killed and three wounded in a shooting near a synagogue in Jerusalem on Friday, amid heightened tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories, Israeli police said.
Friday’s shooter was also later killed by police, police said, in what police chief Yakov Shabtai described as “one of the worst terrorist attacks in years.”
Police said: “As a result of this shooting attack, 7 civilians were killed and 3 others were wounded with additional injuries.”
Israel’s Magen David Edom (MDA) emergency rescue service said five of the shooting victims died at the scene: four men and one woman. Five people were taken to hospital where another man and woman died.
The MDA said a 15-year-old boy was among the injured.
According to a police statement, the attack took place around 8:15 pm local time near a synagogue on New Yaakov Street.
Shabtai said the gunman “started shooting at anyone in his path.” He got into his car and started killing with a pistol at a short distance. According to the police, he then fled the scene in a car and was killed after a shootout with police forces.
Police identified the gunman as a 21-year-old man from East Jerusalem and said in a statement that he appeared to have acted alone. East Jerusalem is a predominantly Palestinian area of the city that was captured by Israel in 1967.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday night called on people to refrain from revenge attacks. I urge people not to take the law into their own hands. For this purpose we have army, police and security forces. “They act and will act according to the orders of the cabinet.”
According to CNN, this incident comes a day after the deadliest day for Palestinians in the West Bank in more than a year.
On Thursday, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians and wounded several others in the West Bank city of Jenin, prompting the Palestinian Authority to suspend security coordination with Israel, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. A 10th Palestinian was killed that day in what Israeli police called a “violent disturbance” near Jerusalem.
On Friday morning local time, Israel launched an airstrike on the Gaza Strip after rockets were fired at Israel.
Israel’s controversial national security minister, Itamar Ben Goyer, visited the scene of the attack on Friday evening and told angry people chanting, “This cannot go on.”
“I can tell you, [the people chanting] You are right, the burden is on us. This cannot continue like this, said Ben Guerre, who also leads the far-right Jewish Power party.
Some of the people on the stage chanted in support of Ben Goyer saying “You are our voice, we support you.”
Hadas Gold and the CNN team, who were also at the scene of the shooting Friday night, heard what sounded like celebratory gunfire and car horns coming from the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
The White House condemned the “heinous terrorist attack” at a synagogue in Jerusalem on Friday, White House spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre said in a statement, and said the US government offered its “full support” to Israel.
The US State Department also condemned the “blatant terrorist attack” in Jerusalem “in the strongest terms”.
“It’s absolutely appalling,” said Vedant Patel, deputy spokesperson for the State Department. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences to the dead and injured in this heinous act of violence.”
Patel said no changes are expected in Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken’s upcoming trip to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank.
The European Union, France and the United Kingdom also condemned this shooting.
I am horrified by the reports of tonight’s horrific attack in Neve Yaakov. An attack on worshipers in a synagogue on Erv Shabat is a particularly horrific act of terrorism. British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan wrote on Twitter: “Britain stands by Israel.”
The EU ambassador to Israel, Dimitar Tzantechev, also condemned this “senseless violence” in his tweet and said: “Terror is never the solution.”
And the French embassy in Israel tweeted that the incident was “all the more despicable that it happened on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day.”
A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned Friday’s deadly attack.
“It is particularly despicable that this attack took place in a place of worship, and on the very day we commemorate World Holocaust Remembrance Day,” he said.
Guterres also expressed concern about the escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and asked everyone to exercise maximum restraint.