Seven dead in an attack on a synagogue in East Jerusalem
A Palestinian gunman shot and killed seven people Friday evening near a synagogue in East Jerusalem during Shabbat prayers after Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, in a new spiral of deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
This shooting, whose author was shot dead, occurred in Neve Yaakov, a Jewish settlement neighborhood in East Jerusalem, part of the Holy City annexed by Israel, against the backdrop of international calls to prevent a new escalation after 36 hours of violence in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, and on the evening of World Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“It is particularly despicable that this attack took place on a place of worship, and [en ce] day of commemoration” of the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis during the second world war, declared the spokesman of Antonio Guterres secretary general of the United Nations.
It is “one of the worst attacks we have suffered in recent years,” Israeli police chief Kobi Shabtai told reporters on the spot.
According to the police, “the terrorist was neutralized and pronounced dead” after a car chase and a shootout with the police.
“I saw the terrorist arrive by car. He stopped in the middle of the crossroads, opened fire from his car” and continued to shoot at people who were approaching to help those affected, said Shalom Borohov, a 48-year-old barber who lives near the synagogue, told AFP.
The Magen David Adom (MDA), the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross, said it had identified a total of ten victims hit by bullets, including a 70-year-old man and a 14-year-old teenager. An AFP photographer saw on the spot three bodies lying in the street.
– “Natural reaction” –
The news of the attack was followed by scenes of jubilation in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip by residents waving Palestinian flags, according to AFP journalists.
While at the scene of the shooting, dozens of Israelis greeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with cries of “Death to the Arabs!”
Speaking later on television, Netanyahu promised “immediate action,” without elaborating, and called on Israelis not to take justice into their own hands but to rely on the military and to the police.
Tonight’s attack in Jerusalem “is a natural reaction to the crimes of the occupation (Israel, editor’s note) against our Palestinian people”, said in Gaza Hazem Qassem, spokesman for the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, recalling the death , the day before, of nine Palestinians during a raid by the Israeli army in Jenin, in the north of the occupied West Bank.
The attack on Neve Yaakov was immediately condemned by Washington.
“It’s absolutely appalling,” State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.
“We condemn this apparent terrorist attack in the strongest terms,” he added, adding that there was no change in the program of the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, who must go to from Sunday in Egypt then Monday and Tuesday in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
During this trip to the Middle East, Mr. Blinken will discuss “measures to be taken for a de-escalation of tensions”, said Mr. Patel.
Paris condemned “the appalling terrorist attack” in East Jerusalem, and Rome “a cowardly terrorist attack”.
– Stop the escalation? –
In addition to the nine dead, the Israeli army’s raid in Jenin on Thursday morning also left several dozen injured.
Israel presented it as a preemptive action against an Islamic Jihad cell that was planning an attack in Israel.
The United Nations has not recorded such a high toll in a single Israeli operation in the West Bank since it began counting the victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2005.
A tenth Palestinian was killed Thursday by Israeli fire in Al-Ram, near Ramallah, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
In retaliation, rockets were fired overnight from Thursday to Friday at Israel from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian territory under Hamas control since 2007.
Israel responded overnight with airstrikes against what the army described as Hamas’ “underground rocket factory” in Gaza.
No casualties were recorded in these exchanges of missiles.
In response to the Israeli raid in Jenin, the Palestinian Authority decided to end security cooperation with Israel, a first since 2020.
France urged Israel and the Palestinians “to refrain from fueling the escalation” and the United States said it was “deeply concerned about the escalation of violence”.