Seven Israelis killed in East Jerusalem Jewish settlement shooting

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  January 27, 2023

The shooter, who is reportedly a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem, was shot dead by police.

At least seven people were killed and 3 others were wounded in a shooting in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, according to Israeli police and medics.

The shooter, who the police said was a 21-year-old Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, was also shot dead. 

Israeli police said he arrived by car at around 8:15 pm local time outside a building used as a synagogue in the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov. He then opened fire at people in the area before fleeing the scene on foot and encountered police forces. He died in an exchange of fire with police officers.

Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman told reporters at the scene that the shooter acted alone, according to the Times of Israel.  

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir arrived at the scene of the shooting and was met with both support and indignation.

An assessment meeting was set to be chaired by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with top security officials. 

The office of Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said he was heading back to the country from the United States where he was on a personal trip.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply worried” by the escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, and urged for restraint.

The White House issued a statement saying that US President Joe Biden has strongly condemned the attack and directed his national security team to offer assistance to their Israeli counterparts. 

State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters during a news briefing that Washington did not expect changes to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Israel next week.

Jewish settlers moved to Neve Yaakov following the occupation of the city by Israeli forces in 1967. Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law.

The shooting on Friday comes a day after Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians in the West Bank, nine of them during a large-scale raid in the Jenin refugee camp. 

Israeli troops have killed 30 people this month in a sign of continued growing violence against Palestinians.

Last year, more Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem than in any single calendar year since the Second Intifada

At least 220 people died in Israeli attacks across the occupied territories in 2022, including 48 children. Of the total death toll, 167 were from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and 53 were from the Gaza Strip.


Gunman kills 7 people in occupied East Jerusalem attack

Al-Jazeera  /  January 27, 2023

Shooting follows a deadly Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp that killed nine Palestinians.

A gunman has killed seven people near a synagogue in an Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem before being fatally shot, in an escalation of violence following a deadly Israeli military raid in the West Bank a day earlier.

After Friday’s shooting, the Magen David Adom emergency service confirmed that seven people were dead, five of them men and two women, while hospitals were still treating three wounded, one 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 of the attack in the illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Yaakov.

“The figures we have now are seven people dead,” said Bays, adding that police said the suspect had no previous “security record”.

The emergency response agency reported a total of 10 gunshot victims, including a 60-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy.

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 the AFP news agency.

An earlier police statement said there was a “terror attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem” and that “the shooting terrorist was neutralized [killed]”.

Police later said the suspect was a 21-year-old resident of East Jerusalem who appeared to have acted alone in carrying out the attack in an area that Israel annexed to Jerusalem after the 1967 June War.

It said he had tried to flee by car but was pursued by police and shot dead.

The attack comes a day after a deadly Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Nine Palestinians were killed, including an elderly woman, after dozens of Israeli soldiers attacked a house the army said contained suspected fighters, leading to several hours of intense confrontations.

A 22-year-old Palestinian man also was shot by Israeli forces in the town of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, on Thursday.

In a sign of the potential for further escalation, the Palestinian health ministry said three Palestinians were taken to hospital after being shot by an Israeli settler in an incident near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

It added that a 16-year-old Palestinian who was shot by Israeli forces in a separate incident on Wednesday succumbed to his wounds.

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

‘A natural response’

Hazem Qassem, a spokesperson for Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip, told the Reuters news agency that 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”.

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

Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank have become an almost daily occurrence over the last year with at least 200 Palestinians — fighters and civilians — killed. Israeli civilians and troops also have been killed in attacks by Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territory.

Friday’s shooting came just hours after Palestinians marched in anger as they buried the last of those killed by Israeli troops the previous day.

Scuffles between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters erupted in the occupied West Bank throughout the day, including after the funeral for the 22-year-old killed north of Jerusalem.

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

The escalation of violence also comes just days before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to visit Israel and the occupied West Bank.

“The United States condemns in the strongest terms the horrific terrorist attack,” Blinken said in a statement.

“We are in close contact with our Israeli partners and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

Netanyahu to convene security cabinet

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

Speaking to reporters at Israel’s national police headquarters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had held a security assessment and decided on “immediate actions”.

He said he would convene his security cabinet on Saturday night, after the end of the Sabbath, to discuss a further response. Netanyahu declined to elaborate but said Israel would act with “determination and composure”.

He also called on the public not to take the law into their own hands.

US President Joe Biden held a call with the Israeli prime minister on Friday night in which he called the killings an “attack against the civilized world” and offered support to Israel. Biden also “stressed the iron-clad US commitment to Israel’s security”, the White House said in a statement.

The shooting was the deadliest for Israelis since a 2008 attack killed eight people in a Jewish seminary, according to Israel’s foreign ministry.

Before Friday’s shooting, at least 30 Palestinians had been killed so far this year and the Palestinian Authority, which has limited governing powers in the West Bank, said it was suspending a security cooperation arrangement with Israel.

Months of violence in the occupied West Bank have heightened concerns the already unpredictable conflict may spiral out of control, triggering broader violence by Israel.

Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several smaller skirmishes on Gaza since Hamas took power in the besieged coastal enclave in 2007. Tensions have soared since Israel stepped up raids in the occupied West Bank last March.