Seven Israelis have been killed following a shooting outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem, the latest in a spate of violent attacks across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as tensions rise across the region once more.
A preliminary Israeli police investigation indicates that a gunman in a car waited until Shabbat services ended at a synagogue in Neve Yaakov, a neighborhood of Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem, before opening fire on worshipers as they left the temple on Friday night. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the attack occurred.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service reported that five persons were pronounced dead at the site and two others died in the hospital. The number of fatalities has been lowered from eight to seven, and at least nine further casualties are believed to be in severe condition.
Late at night, Jerusalem was filled with the sounds of police and ambulance sirens and images of dead scattered over the street.
According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, the gunman opened fire on an elderly woman and a man on a motorcycle before reaching the synagogue; however, authorities did not immediately confirm this information.
Officers shot and killed the attacker as he attempted to run, according to authorities. He was a resident of East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967, according to the police.
According to Arabic and Hebrew media accounts, he was a 21-year-old man with no security record.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters at the headquarters of Israel’s national police that he had conducted a security assessment and that Israel would take quick action with “determination and composure,” without providing any specifics. He urged the populace not to take matters into their own hands.
The shooting on Friday night was the bloodiest terrorist act against Israelis in years, and it occurred a day after the deadliest Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank in the past two decades, in which nine Palestinians were slain.