Israeli medics say a gunman has killed 5 near a synagogue in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian gunman opened fire outside a synagogue in east Jerusalem Friday night, killing five people and wounding five others in one of the deadliest attacks on Israelis in years, medical officials said. The attack was stopped when the gunman was shot dead by police.

The killings came a day after Israeli troops killed nine Palestinians in an attack in the West Bank over the years and raised the prospect of more bloodshed.

The violence poses a challenge to Israel’s new hardline government and cast a cloud over US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit to the region on Sunday. He is likely to discuss the root causes of the simmering conflict, the agenda of Israel’s new far-right government and the Palestinian Authority’s decision to suspend security coordination with Israel in retaliation for the deadly attack.

Israel’s MADA rescue service confirmed five deaths and said five people were injured, including a 70-year-old woman in critical condition and a 14-year-old boy in serious condition.

Police said the gunman was “neutralized,” a term that usually means he was killed. However, there was no official confirmation.

In several places in the Gaza Strip, dozens of Palestinians gathered in spontaneous demonstrations to celebrate the attack in Jerusalem, with some emerging from dessert shops with large trays of sweets to hand out. Similar celebrations were reported in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The attack took place amid heightened tensions. Palestinians marched angrily on Friday as they buried the last of 10 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire a day earlier.

Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters erupted after the funeral of a 22-year-old Palestinian north of Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, but calm prevailed in the disputed capital and the blockaded Gaza Strip for most of the day.

Thursday’s attack at the Jenin refugee camp turned into a shootout that killed at least nine Palestinians, while clashes elsewhere left 10 dead. Gaza militants then fired rockets and Israel carried out airstrikes overnight – but the exchanges were limited.

The Biden administration has been deeply engaged with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in recent days, said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, emphasizing “the urgent need here for all parties to de-escalate to prevent further loss of civilian life and to work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank.”

“We are certainly deeply concerned by this escalating cycle of violence in the West Bank, as well as the rockets that have apparently been fired from Gaza,” Kirby said. “And of course, we condemn any actions that only further escalate tensions.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s defense minister has instructed the military to prepare for further strikes in the Gaza Strip “if necessary” – also appearing to leave open the possibility that the violence could ease.

While residents of Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank remained tense earlier on Friday, midday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a frequent catalyst for clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, were relatively peaceful.

At the 22-year-old’s funeral, crowds of Palestinians waved the flags of both Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority, and the militant Hamas that rules Gaza. In the streets of the town called al-Ram, masked Palestinians threw stones and set off fireworks at Israeli police, who responded with tear gas.

But both Palestinian rockets and Israeli airstrikes appeared to be contained to prevent them from escalating into full-scale war. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several smaller clashes since the militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

The Friday night shooting, coming on the Jewish Sabbath, immediately changed the equation.

Israel’s opposition leader, former prime minister Yair Lapid, called it “horrifying and heartbreaking.”

#Israeli #medics #gunman #killed #synagogue #Jerusalem

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button