Police say that the shooter fired at a group of worshipers as they exited the synagogue.
The gunman has been reportedly killed. Hamas claims responsibility.
Police say that the shooter fired at a group of Jewish worshipers exiting the synagogue. The gunman has been reportedly killed.
Israeli police described it as a “terror attack” and said it took place in a synagogue in Neve Yaakov, considered by Israelis to be a neighbourhood within Jerusalem, while Palestinians and most of the international community consider it occupied land illegally annexed after the Six-Day War in 1967.
According to Israel Police, the gunman arrived at the synagogue just before 8:15 P.M. and waited outside the building from where he shot seven dead and injured three.
Police say that after the gunman fired at the worshippers his firearm got jammed or ran out of ammunition, so he tried to get back into his car to flee the scene. Israeli police arrived and he fired at them.
District Commander Doron Turgeman added that after the shooter fled the scene, he drove his vehicle towards the Beit Hanina neighbourhood, and the police began to chase him. The gunman shot at police officers, who fired back.
Later, the gunman abandoned the vehicle, began to flee on foot and was shot dead by the police. The police also said that the gun he used was captured. Police officials estimated this evening that the gunman knew the synagogue and planned the attack in advance.
Reports say the gunman was a resident of East Jerusalem.
Israel’s Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai told reporters at the scene that “this is a serious and complex attack with a large number of victims.” He added that police are searching the area to rule out the possibility that there are more people involved in the attack who are “walking freely.”
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir arrived at the scene and told one of the residents there that “we must arm more and more citizens.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office stated that Netanyahu is receiving rolling updates about the attack and that he intends to convene a security briefing meeting shortly.
The Defense Ministry stated that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is receiving operational updates from the security forces and that he is scheduled shortly to speak with IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi, Shin Bet security service Director Ronen Bar and other security officials.
Hamas’ spokesman in Jerusalem, Mohammed Hamada said the group “welcomes the attack which comes as a natural response to the attacks against the Al-Aqsa mosque” and the Israeli army raid in the Jenin refugee camp on Thursday which saw nine Palestinian killed and 20 others wounded in clashes with Israeli soldiers.
“The Palestinian people will never forget their martyrs,” Hamada continued. They will “avenge their deaths when the time and place are ripe,” adding that “the Neve Yaakov settlement is a heavy burden on the Palestinians in Jerusalem, and Jerusalem has proven to be a great source of martyrs who rise to avenge the Palestinian people and the Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Three of the wounded were taken to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem including a 70-year-old woman in critical condition, a 20-year-old male in serious condition and a 14-year-old boy in moderate to serious condition.
Friday night’s shooting is the worst terrorist attack on Israelis in years. It comes in the wake of the deadliest Israeli army raid in the West Bank in two decades on Thursday morning, in which nine Palestinians were killed.
The raid targeting Islamic Jihad militants in the Jenin refugee camp, in the north of the Palestinian territory, triggered tit-for-tat rocket fire between the Gaza Strip and Israel in the early hours of Friday and sparked fears of a wider escalation in the decades-long conflict.
Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s holy al-Aqsa mosque in the Temple Mount complex – often a catalyst for violence – passed without incident before the evening shooting.
Last year was the bloodiest year on record in Israel and the Palestinian territories since 2004, with about 250 Palestinians in the West Bank and 30 Israelis killed. Another 49 Palestinians died in the Gaza Strip in a three-day surprise Israeli bombing campaign in August.
So far this month, 31 Palestinians have been killed.