Synagogue attack leaves seven dead as West Bank violence escalates.
Synagogue attack leaves seven dead as West Bank violence escalates.

Jerusalem: Friday night, a Palestinian gunman opened fire outside an east Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven people—including a woman in her 70s—and injuring three more. He was later shot and killed by police, according to officials. It increased the likelihood of additional bloodshed and was the deadliest attack on Israelis in recent memory.

The assault took place a day after an Israeli military raid in the West Bank that left nine people dead. It happened as locals were observing the Jewish Sabbath. The shooting sparked celebrations in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, where people fired guns into the air, honked horns, and handed out candy.

The outbreak of violence has presented an early challenge for Israel's new government, which is predominated by ultranationalists who have pushed for a hard line against Palestinian violence. It also included a rocket barrage from Gaza and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes. Additionally, it tainted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's Sunday visit to the area.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters at the national police headquarters in Israel that he had conducted a security assessment and made a decision on "immediate actions." After the Sabbath ended on Saturday, he declared that he would meet with his Security Cabinet to discuss an additional response.

Netanyahu chose not to go into further detail but promised that Israel would act "determinately and calmly." He urged the populace to refrain from enforcing the law themselves.

Speaking on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the US strongly condemned the attack and was "shocked and saddened" by the lives lost.

Later on Friday, US officials revealed that President Joe Biden had spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express US support for the Israeli government and people and to describe the shootings as "an attack against the civilised world." The call, according to the White House, "the President stressed the ironclad US commitment to Israel's security."

The shootings took place in Neve Yaakov, a neighbourhood with a sizable ultra-Orthodox population, according to Israeli police, and the shooter escaped in a car. According to the police, they pursued him and killed him after exchanging gunfire.

In addition to the shooter, Chief Doron Turjeman of the Jerusalem Police confirmed seven deaths and three injuries.

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A 21-year-old resident of east Jerusalem who appeared to act alone was the assailant, according to police. Turjeman pledged to make "significant and aggressive" efforts to find anyone who assisted him. A picture of the gun the police claim the attacker used was also made public by the police.

Yoav Gallant, Israel's defence minister, met with the military chief and other top security officials and gave them orders to support police and bolster security for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and close to Jerusalem.

According to Gallant, "Israel's defence establishment will act decisively and firmly against terror and will reach anyone involved in the attack." Five men and two women, many of whom were in their 60s or older, were among the dead, according to Israel's MADA rescue service. A 15-year-old boy was recovering from surgery, according to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the attack was the deadliest against Israelis since a shooting in 2008 that left eight people dead in a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem. It had the potential to prompt a stern response from Israel given the situation's timing and location.

Rockets fired by Gaza militants into southern Israel overnight on Thursday were all either intercepted or fell in open spaces. Israel's response was to attack targets in Gaza with airstrikes. There were no casualties reported, and before Friday night's shooting, tranquilly seemed to be settling in.

No one immediately took responsibility. The attack was "revenge and a natural response," according to Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem in Gaza, to the deadly military raid on Thursday.

Dozens of Palestinians gathered in impromptu demonstrations across the Gaza Strip to celebrate the attack in Jerusalem; some of them emerged from dessert shops carrying sizable trays of sweets to hand out.

Gunfire in celebration could be heard in Gaza City's downtown as cars honked and shouts of "God is great!" came from mosque loudspeakers. Palestinians lit off fireworks in a number of West Bank towns.

The raid in the town of Jenin on Thursday, which resulted in the deaths of nine people, including at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman, increased tensions, which were already high. In the West Bank, it was the single deadliest raid in 20 years. Separate clashes close to Jerusalem resulted in the death of a tenth Palestinian.

As they laid the final victim of those killed a day earlier to rest, furious Palestinians marched on Friday.

After a 22-year-old Palestinian's funeral, fighting broke out between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank and other locations, but for the majority of the day, peace reigned in the disputed capital of Jerusalem and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

That abruptly ended with the shooting in east Jerusalem, which former prime minister and opposition leader Yair Lapid called "horrific and heartbreaking."
Israel considers the religious Jewish community of Neve Yaakov to be a part of its capital's neighbourhood. While the Palestinians want east Jerusalem to serve as the capital of their future state, Israel claims that all of Jerusalem is its undivided capital.

The purpose of Blinken's journey will likely now be to ease tensions. He will probably talk about the root causes of the conflict, the goals of the new far-right government in Israel, and the PA's decision to stop security cooperation with Israel in retaliation for the raid.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby noted that the Biden administration has been in close contact with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in recent days, highlighting the "urgent need here for all parties to deescalate to prevent the further loss of civilian life and to work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank."

Since the militant group seized control of Gaza from adversarial forces in 2007, Israel and Hamas have engaged in four wars and a number of smaller skirmishes. Following a string of Palestinian attacks, Israel increased its raids in the West Bank last spring, which heightened tensions.

According to the leading Israeli rights organisation B'Tselem, 2022 was the deadliest year in the West Bank and east Jerusalem since 2004 with close to 150 Palestinian deaths. 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis last year.

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30 Palestinians have died this year so far, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Most of those killed, according to Israel, were militants. However, youths opposing the incursions and others who were not involved in the altercations have also perished.

Israel claims that the goals of its raids are to destroy militant networks and prevent attacks. The West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip were all taken by Israel during the Mideast War of 1967, adding to its 55-year, unrestricted occupation, according to the Palestinians.

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