Palestinian terrorist shoots 7 dead in ‘killing rampage’ at Jerusalem synagogue

Seven people were shot and killed and at least three others wounded in a terrorist attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood, police and medics said Friday night.

According to the police, the terrorist arrived in a car at 20:13 at the synagogue in the East Jerusalem neighborhood and opened fire on people outside the synagogue and other passers-by.

He then fled the scene in a car towards the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina – a few hundred meters away – where about five minutes later he encountered police officers who had been called to the scene.

Police said the terrorist – a resident of East Jerusalem – was shot dead after getting out of the car and opening fire on officers as he tried to flee on foot.

A gun used in the attack was seized.

According to Channel 12 news, the terrorist first shot dead an elderly woman in the street, then ran into a motorcyclist and shot him dead before reaching the Ateret Avraham Synagogue and opening fire on people outside.

The first Magen David Adom medic to arrive at the scene, Fadi Dekidek, said: “The incident was very serious. We saw a woman and four men lying on the street. All had gunshot wounds and no signs of life.

Magen David Adom said his medics pronounced five victims dead at the scene and two other victims were pronounced dead at hospitals in Jerusalem.

Security and rescue forces at the scene of a deadly terrorist attack in Neve Ya’akov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Speaking to reporters at the scene, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said the attack was one of the worst Israel had seen in years.

“The terrorist was shooting at everyone he met. He got out of the car and launched a murderous attack with a gun,” said Shabtai.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking after visiting the scene, called the attack “one of the worst we have known in years.”

“Our hearts go out to the families. I congratulate the police officers who took action so quickly,” Netanyahu said. “We must act decisively and coolly. I urge people not to take the law into their own hands.”

He said the cabinet would meet on Saturday, adding: “We have decided on several immediate steps that will begin tonight.”

Palestinian terrorist shoots 7 dead in ‘killing rampage’ at Jerusalem synagogue

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the scene of a deadly terrorist attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The police officer who shot the terrorist met Netanyahu at the scene.

“The vehicle stopped, the terrorist pulled out his weapon,” the officer said. “I kept moving fast in his direction and got close to him while he was shooting at us.”

“We stopped the patrol car, drew our weapons, the terrorist crossed the other side. We shot at him and he fell. We got closer and saw that he was still moving and trying to turn his weapon. We neutralized him,” the officer said.

A bystander video released by Channel 12 is said to show the shootout between police and the terrorist.

With seven dead, the Jerusalem shooting was the deadliest terror attack since 2011, when terrorists crossed into Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing eight Israelis. It was the deadliest Palestinian terror attack since 2008, when an East Jerusalem gunman killed eight Israeli students at the capital’s Mercaz Harav yeshiva.

The gun used by a terrorist in a shooting in the Neve Ya’akov neighborhood of Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Israel Police)

The MDA said the dead were five men aged 20, 25, 30, 50 and 60 and two women aged 60 and 70.

The victims were not immediately named.

Among the injured, there is a 15-year-old boy in medium-severe condition, a 24-year-old man in medium-severe condition and a 60-year-old woman, also in medium-severe condition.

The victims were taken to Hadassah Mount Scopus and Shaare Tzedek hospitals.

Jerusalem Police Chief Doron Turgeman at the scene of a deadly terrorist shooting in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood on January 27, 2023 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman, speaking to reporters at the scene, said the terrorist acted alone.

Dozens of police officers were dispatched to the scene, the police said.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who is in charge of the police, arrived at the scene of the attack, was briefed by police officers and later accompanied Netanyahu when the prime minister arrived. Citizens on the stage shouted various comments at the minister; some shouted “Death to terrorists”.

“It’s on your watch!” shouted one man. “Let’s see what you’ll do now.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at the scene of a deadly terrorist attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Defense Minister Yoav Galant, who was in the United States on a personal trip, was due to return to Israel on Friday evening after the attack, his office said.

Netanyahu held an assessment with senior security officials before heading to the site of the attack.

Following the assessment, IDF Chief Herzi Halevi issued instructions to strengthen forces in the West Bank and along the security barrier and to prepare for a potential escalation in the region.

Security and rescue forces at the scene of a deadly terrorist shooting in the Neve Ya’akov neighborhood of Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Local residents told Channel 12 News it took 20 minutes for police to arrive. “It’s a disgrace,” said one anguished man.

Police responded to the accusation by saying their records showed officers arrived at the scene and killed the terrorist within five minutes of the first reports of gunfire.

Shalom Borokhov, a barber who lives near the synagogue, told AFP that after hearing gunshots, he “came down to help the people”.

“I saw the terrorist arriving in his car. He stopped in the middle of the intersection and fired from his car, continuing to fire as people came to the scene, he said.

The terrorist was named by the Shin Bet security agency as Alqam Khayri, 21, a resident of East Jerusalem with no previous terrorism-related offences.

Police were reported to have been operating in the al-Tur neighborhood where Khairy is said to have lived. Palestinian media reported that the gunman’s father had been called in by police for questioning.

Palestinian media reported that celebrations were held in the Gaza Strip and several Palestinian cities in the West Bank following the deadly attack.

Friday’s deadly attack came after days of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Tensions have risen sharply since Thursday morning, when an Israel Defense Forces raid on a terror cell in the West Bank left nine Palestinians dead – most of them gunmen and members of the cell, although at least one civilian was also killed.

The IDF said Thursday’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp was necessary to thwart impending attack plans by a local Islamic Jihad terror cell. The group had loaded explosives and firearms, according to the IDF.

Hamas praised Friday’s attack as a response to Thursday’s IS operation, but no terrorist group claimed responsibility.

Thursday night rocket fire by Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza and Israeli retaliatory airstrikes, although both sides appeared determined to avoid escalating into full-scale war.

Tensions were also high in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount on Friday, although Muslim prayers continued without a hitch.

AFP contributed to this report.

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