Israeli army reinforces in West Bank after synagogue shooting
Friday night’s shooting came a day after the deadliest Israeli raid in the West Bank in years and cross-border fires between Israel and Gaza that raised fears of a bloodbath.
On Saturday, the Israeli ambulance service said two people were injured in what appeared to be another shooting attack.
The Israeli Police said that the gunman in Friday’s attack was a 21-year-old Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem who apparently acted alone when he carried out the attack in an area that Israel annexed to Jerusalem after the war. of the 1967 Middle East.
She said that he had tried to escape by car but was followed by the police and killed. Forty-two suspects, including members of the gunman’s family, had been arrested and the authorities were on high alert, the police said.
The attack underscored fears of an escalation in violence after months of fighting in the West Bank that culminated in a raid in Jenin on Thursday that killed at least nine Palestinians.
“After an assessment of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) situation, it was decided to strengthen the Judea and Samaria Division (West Bank) with an additional battalion,” the military said.
The outbreak of violence is the first major confrontation since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office last month at the head of a government that includes hardline nationalist parties.
After an assessment with security authorities, Netanyahu urged people not to take the law into their own hands but said measures had been decided and the cabinet would meet on Saturday.
The Minister of National Security of the extreme right Itamar Ben-Gvir, visited the place of the attack, where he was greeted with a mixture of joy and anger. “The government must answer, if God wills this is what will happen,” he told an expectant crowd.
Friday’s shooting, which occurred on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Jewish Sabbath, was condemned by the White House and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who expressed concern about the current escalation of violence and urged “greater restraint”. It came days before a planned visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israel and the West Bank.
Jordan and Egypt, Arab countries that signed peace treaties with Israel, condemned the attack as did the United Arab Emirates, one of several Arab states that normalized relations with Israel just over two years ago. .
The Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah praised the attack and a spokesman for the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas praised it as “a response to the crime committed by the occupation in Jenin and a natural response to the criminal actions of the occupation”.
The smaller Islamic Jihad militant group also praised the attack without claiming responsibility.
Showing the potential for further escalation, the Palestinian health ministry said on Friday three Palestinians were taken to hospital after being shot by an Israeli settler in an incident near the northern city of Nablus. West Bank.
SCENE IN THE SYNAGOGUE
The Police said that the armed man from Jerusalem arrived at 8:15 pm and opened fire with a gun, hitting a number of people before he was killed by the police. “We arrived at the scene extremely quickly and it was horrible. Injured people lying on the street,” said Shimon Alfasi from the Israeli ambulance service.
Earlier Friday, militants in Gaza fired rockets at Israel, which caused no casualties but drew airstrikes from Israeli jets, which hit targets in the blockaded coastal strip controlled by Hamas.
Violence in the West Bank has increased following a series of deadly attacks in Israel last year. The latest season of violence began under the previous coalition government and continued under the right-wing Netanyahu administration, which includes parties that want to expand settlements in the West Bank.
Before Friday’s shooting, at least 30 Palestinians had been killed this year and the Palestinian Authority, which has limited governing powers in the West Bank, said it was suspending a cooperation arrangement between security with Israel.
(Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Frances Kerry)
By Maayan Lubell