Jerusalem synagogue attack leaves at least seven dead, Israeli police say

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CNN
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Israeli police say at least seven people were killed and three were injured in a shooting near a synagogue in Jerusalem on Friday amid high tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Friday’s shooter was also later killed by police forces, according to police, in what police chief Yaakov Shabtai described as “one of the worst terror attacks in the past few years.”

“As a result of the shooting attack, the death of 7 civilians was determined and 3 others were injured with additional degrees of injury,” police said.

Five of the shooting victims were pronounced dead at the scene, Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency rescue service said: four men and a woman. Five people were transported to hospitals, where another man and woman were declared dead.

Among the wounded is a 15-year-old boy, the MDA said.

The attack occurred around 8:15 p.m. local time, near a synagogue on Neve Yaakov Street, according to a police statement.

Shabtai said the gunman “started shooting at anyone that was in his way. He got in his car and started a killing spree with a pistol at short range.” He then fled the scene in a vehicle and was killed after a shootout with police forces, police said.

Police identified the gunman as a 21-year-old resident of East Jerusalem, saying in a statement that he appeared to have acted alone. East Jerusalem is a predominantly Palestinian area of the city, which was captured by Israel in 1967.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged people against revenge attacks on Friday night. “I call on the people not to take the law into their own hands. For that purpose we have an army, police and security forces. They act and will act according to the cabinet instructions,” he said.

The incident comes one day after the deadliest day for Palestinians in the West Bank in over a year, according to CNN records.

On Thursday, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians and wounded several others in the West Bank city of Jenin, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, prompting the Palestinian Authority to suspend security coordination with Israel. A tenth Palestinian was killed that day in what Israel Police called a “violent disturbance” near Jerusalem.

Overnight, on Friday morning local time, Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza strip after rockets were fired towards Israel.

Israeli security forces search a car at the site of a reported attack in a settler neighbourhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, on January 27, 2023.

Israel’s controversial National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visited the scene of the attack on Friday evening, telling people who were chanting angrily that “it cannot continue like this.”

“I can tell you, [the people chanting] you are right. The burden is on us. It cannot continue like this,” Ben Gvir, who also leads the far-right Jewish Power party, said.

Some people on the scene were chanting support for Ben Gvir, saying “You are our voice, we support you.”

CNN’s Hadas Gold and team, who were also at the scene of Friday night’s shooting, heard what sounded like celebratory gunfire and car horns honking from the nearby predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

The White House condemned the “heinous terror attack” at a synagogue in Jerusalem on Friday and said the United States government has extended its “full support” to Israel, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The US State Department also condemned the “apparent terrorist attack” in Jerusalem “in the strongest terms.”

“This is absolutely horrific,” said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel. “Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those killed and injured in this heinous act of violence.”

Patel said no change to the schedule of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming trip to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank was expected.

Israel's Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir speaks with Israeli forces on January 27, 2023.

The European Union, France and the UK also condemned the shooting.

“I am appalled by reports of the terrible attack in Neve Yaakov tonight. Attacking worshippers at a synagogue on Erev Shabat is a particularly horrific act of terrorism. The UK stands with Israel,” Neil Wigan, the British ambassador in Israel wrote on Twitter.

The EU ambassador to Israel, Dimiter Tzantchev, also condemned the “senseless violence,” saying in his tweet, “Terror is never the answer.”

And the French embassy in Israel tweeted that the incident was “all the more despicable as it was committed on this day of international remembrance of the Holocaust.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres also condemned Friday’s deadly attack, his spokesman said.

“It is particularly abhorrent that the attack occurred at a place of worship, and on the very day we commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” he said.

Guterres also expressed worry “about the current escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory,” urging all “to exercise utmost restraint.”

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