At least seven people have been killed in Israel after a gunman opened fire on worshipers outside a Synagogue in the Neve Yaakov area of Jerusalem, located in the contentious West Bank. Five of the seven victims were men while two were females. One of the females is said to be about 70 years old. Three others are said to have sustained injuries, with one in critical condition.
The Police said the gunman arrived at the synagogue at about 8:13 p.m. and waited outside until Shabbat prayers ended before opening fire on worshipers as they walked outside.
“The terrorist shot at everyone he encountered. He got out of the car and began a murderous rampage with a handgun,” Shabtai, police commissioner, stated, adding that it was one of the worst attacks in Israel for years.
A barber named Shalom Borohov, who was not far from the scene at the time of the incident, said he saw the gunman arrive at the synagogue with his car.
“I saw the terrorist arriving with his car. He stopped in the middle of the junction, and shot from his car,” Shalom told AFP news channel.
Five of the seven victims were pronounced dead at the scene, while the other two could have died in the hospital.
“It was a very serious incident. We saw a woman and four men lying on the street. All had gunshot wounds and no signs of life,” Fadi Dekidek, the first medic to arrive, stated.
On Thursday, Israeli forces killed at least 10 Palestinians in the West Bank when they raided the area in search of terrorist camps. Many, especially Palestinians, believe Friday’s attack was a retaliation for Thursday’s killings.
The gunman caught and killed
Following the attack on the synagogue on Friday, the Police said it has killed the man behind the act. The “terrorist” was identified as 21-year-old Alqam Khayri, a resident of East Jerusalem, with no previous record of such an act.
“The vehicle stopped, and the terrorist pulled out his weapon. I kept moving fast in his direction and closed in on him while he was firing at us,” the officer who killed the terrorist told the Prime Minister at the scene.
“We stopped the patrol car, pulled out our weapons, and the terrorist crossed to the other side. We fired on him and he fell. We moved in and saw that he was still moving and trying to turn around his weapon. We neutralized him,” the officer added.
The Israeli police are said to be investigating what happened and the gunman’s father was summoned by the Police for questioning.
Israel to take “immediate steps”
Following the attack, the Israeli Minister of Police, Itamar Ben Gvir, visited the scene. He was greeted by protesters chanting ‘death to the terrorist,’ ‘it happened under your watch,’ and ‘what will you do now.”
Ben Gvir said the government would not fail to take appropriate action over the incident. He was at the scene for a second time, but this time, he was with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr Netanyahu described the incident as one of the most severe in recent years and promised to take decisive actions immediately.
“We have decided on several immediate steps that will begin tonight,” Netanyahu stated, adding that he would convene a cabinet meeting on Saturday.
“Our hearts are with the families. I commend the police officers who took action so quickly. We must act with determination and composure. I call on people not to take the law into their own hands,” the prime minister added.
Celebration in Palestine, mourning in Israel
On Friday night, there were fireworks in Eastern Jerusalem. Crowds were celebrating and jubilating. Who could be celebrating when seven people just died? They are Palestinian groups that think killing 7 Israelis is an achievement, especially after Thursday’s raid of the West Bank.
“Facial recognition should be used to ensure that everyone in this video celebrating the terror attack on Synagogue worshippers, loses the ability to ever work in Israel again or even to cross a border,” Avi Kaner, a social media activist on behalf of Israel, wrote on Twitter.
The spokesperson for Hamas, Hazem Qassem, said: “This operation is a response to the crime conducted by the occupation in Jenin and a natural response to the occupation’s criminal actions.” He was referring to Israel’s raid in Jenin the previous day. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Another holocaust on holocaust memorial
The murder of seven Israeli worshipers has attracted condemnation from around the world. To some, taking a side between Israel and Palestine is difficult, hence the call for de-escalation in the occupied West Bank.
However, Friday’s attack was significant and hurts differently because it happened on a day the world was remembering how millions of Jews were killed during the holocaust.
“Disgusting! On the day that the world remembers the horrors of the Holocaust, Palestinians are celebrating the murder of innocent Israelis in Jerusalem with fireworks and dancing,” Gilad Erdan, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, wrote while sharing a video of jubilant Palestinians. “This is the result of decades of Palestinian incitement and hate that the world ignores.”
The shooting was the deadliest Palestinian terror attack since 2008 when a gunman killed eight Israeli students in east Jerusalem.