| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Shooting at East Jerusalem synagogue kills seven

On the eve of US State Department Secretary Anthony Blinken’s visit on Sunday, Israeli officials said a Palestinian gunman opened fire outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem on Friday, killing seven people and wounding three others before he was shot and killed by the police.

Israeli police commissioner Kobi Shabtai said the shooting was “one of the worst attacks we have encountered in recent years”.

The attack comes amid escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories. A day earlier, nine Palestinians — including at least seven militants and an elderly woman — were killed in an Israeli military operation in the city of Jenin, in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli police and medics said the shooting occurred outside a synagogue in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Neve Yaakov, where worshippers gathered for the Sabbath on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Authorities said the gunman fled in a car after opening fire, and that the police chased him. Following an exchange of fire, the attacker was “neutralized,” police said.

The perpetrator was identified as a 21-year-old resident of East Jerusalem who was acting alone, as per preliminary investigation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who paid a visit to the scene of the shooting, told reporters that his security cabinet would announce “immediate measures” soon in response to the attack.

Netanyahu called on the Israeli public not to take the law into their own hands.

The US State Department has condemned the attack as “absolutely horrific.”

“We condemn this apparent terrorist attack in the strongest terms,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters. “Our commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad, and we are in direct touch with our Israeli partners.”
US President Joe Biden asked his national security team to offer support in “assisting the wounded and bringing the perpetrators of this horrible crime to justice,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

The attack came ahead of a planned visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israel and the West Bank on Sunday.

CIA director William Burns is also currently visiting Israel and the West Bank on a trip arranged before the latest violence.

Reuters news agency cited Palestinian officials as saying that Burns would meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday. But no comment was immediately available from US officials.

Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, has slammed the attack and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

“Deeply saddened by reports of a Palestinian gunman killing worshippers near a synagogue in Neve Yaakov — an evil terrorist act against Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day. My heart goes out to the families of the murdered victims and I pray for the health of the injured,” he wrote on Twitter.
The United Arab Emirates also condemned the synagogue attack, state news agency (WAM) reported citing a Foreign Ministry statement.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attack, saying it was “particularly abhorrent” that it occurred at a place of worship and on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

He said in a statement carried by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric he was “deeply worried about the current escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.”

  • DW