DStv Channel 403 Saturday, 20 April 2024

New gun attack in east Jerusalem after synagogue shooting

A 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot and wounded an Israeli father and son in east Jerusalem Saturday, hours after a gunman killed seven outside a sy...
Israeli emergency service personnel and security forces stand near a covered body after the shooting in a settler neighbourhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem
AFP | AHMAD GHARABLI

JERUSALEM - A 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot and wounded an Israeli father and son in east Jerusalem Saturday, hours after a gunman killed seven outside a synagogue, raising fears of escalation despite international calls for calm.

Following the deadliest spate of attacks in years, Israeli security chiefs were set to meet to consider tougher measures in response to the violence. 

The Saturday morning gun attack was in Silwan, just outside the walled Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

An Israeli father, 47, and his 23-year-old army officer son sustained gunshot wounds to their upper bodies and were rushed to hospital, along with the attacker who was shot and injured at the scene, police and medics said.

Police had earlier announced 42 arrests in connection with Friday's shooting outside an east Jerusalem synagogue during the Jewish sabbath, which was carried out by a 21-year-old Palestinian. 

The attack coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It came with tensions rising across the region a day after one of the deadliest army raids in the occupied West Bank in two decades, as well as rocket fire from militants in the Gaza Strip and retaliatory Israeli air strikes.

Israeli security forces stand guard near the site of an attack carried out on Saturday in Silwan, near Jerusalem's Old City
AFP | AHMAD GHARABLI

Crowds shouted "Death to Arabs" as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the scene of the synagogue attack late Friday.

Palestinians held spontaneous rallies to celebrate the killings in Gaza and across the West Bank, including in Ramallah where large crowds swarmed the streets chanting and waving Palestinian flags.

Israeli opposition lawmaker Mickey Levy, of former premier Yair Lapid's centrist Yesh Atid party, warned the surging violence recalled the second intifada, the 2000 to 2005 Palestinian uprising that brought devastation to both sides. 

"What happened 20 years ago, it's (starting) to happen right now," he told AFP. 

"We need to sit, think how we can advance and stop this situation."

Israeli police have renewed a call for people with licences to carry guns, while extreme-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said more people should get permits to bear arms. 

"When civilians have guns, they can defend themselves," he told reporters outside a Jerusalem hospital on Saturday.  

The army has also announced it is reinforcing troop numbers in the West Bank. 

 

- US visit -

 

Several Arab governments that have ties with Israel -- including Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates -- have condemned the synagogue attack. 

But the Palestinian Authority led by president Mahmud Abbas has not, with his office insisting Israel was "fully responsible for the dangerous escalation". 

Palestinian leaders are set to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will visit the region next week.

Israeli opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keep up their protests against controversial government plans to give lawmakers more control over the Supreme Court
AFP | JACK GUEZ

Blinken will also hold talks with Netanyahu, the veteran leader's first high-level meeting with a US official since returning to power last month as head of the most right-wing government in Israeli history. 

Netanyahu's domestic critics continued their protests on Saturday, with thousands turning out in Tel Aviv to oppose his controversial judicial reform plan that aims to give politicians more control over the Supreme Court. 

 

- 'Bullet in his head' -

 

The synagogue shooting has been described as the deadliest single attack targeting Israelis in more than a decade. 

The gunman was killed by police during a shootout that followed a brief car chase after the attack.

There has been no indication that he had prior involvement in militant activity or was a member of an established Palestinian armed group.

Authorities have not yet definitively identified the synagogue attacker, but Israeli and Palestinian media have named him as Khayri Alqam, who was being praised on some social media platforms including his Facebook page. 

Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City after  Israel launched air strikes on the Palestinian enclave
AFP | MAHMUD HAMS

Shimon Israel, who lives near the synagogue and witnessed the attack, said he was sitting down for Shabbat dinner when he heard "shooting and shouting".

"A guy stopped (his car) to help... got a bullet in his head and died right here next to me," he said. 

Police said 42 people had been arrested after the synagogue shooting, including members of the gunman's immediate family, relatives and neighbours.

Nine people had been killed Thursday in what Israel described as a "counter-terrorism" operation in the Jenin refugee camp.

It was one of the deadliest Israeli army raids in the West Bank since the second intifada.

Israel said Islamic Jihad operatives were the target.

Islamic Jihad and Hamas both later fired several rockets at Israeli territory.

Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defences. The military responded with strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza.

There were no casualties reported on either side, but Gaza's armed groups vowed further action.

Scene of deadly Israeli raid in West Bank's Jenin
AFP | Saleh HAMAD

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