Gunman kills one and wounds four in Jerusalem

·3-min read
Israeli security personnel carry a body following a shooting incident in Jerusalem’s Old City (REUTERS)
Israeli security personnel carry a body following a shooting incident in Jerusalem’s Old City (REUTERS)

A Palestinian man was shot dead by police after he killed one Israeli and wounded four others near a holy site in Jerusalem.

The violence took place near an entrance to a shrine known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

The site, which is considered holy by both faiths, has triggered several skirmishes between Israelis and Palestinians in recent months.

One person suffered critical injuries, another sustained serious wounds and three others had minor injuries.

The victim who died has been identified as 26-year-old Eliyahu Kay, a South African-born immigrant to Israel who worked at the Western Wall.

The Palestinian attacker was confirmed dead at the scene.

Workers clean the pavement following a shooting incident in Jerusalem (REUTERS)
Workers clean the pavement following a shooting incident in Jerusalem (REUTERS)

Rabbi Zevi Katzanelbogen, a resident of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, said he had been walking home from morning prayers at the Western Wall when he heard gunfire. Moments later he was struck in the arm by a bullet.

Police said two of those lightly injured were officers and identified the attacker as a 42-year-old east Jerusalem resident.

Public security minister Omer Bar Lev told reporters that the gunman was a member of Hamas's political arm from the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem, and that the man's wife had left the country three days earlier.

Palestinian media identified the attacker as Fadi Abu Shkhaidem, and shared an image of him wearing long black robes and a black coat and carrying a firearm similar to the one shown in police photos. He was a teacher at a secondary school near the Old City.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting that he had ordered security forces to be on alert to prevent other attacks.

The Hamas militant group praised the attack in a statement but stopped short of claiming responsibility, calling the incident a "heroic operation". It later claimed Mr Abu Shkhaidem as one of its members.

"Our people's resistance will continue to be legitimate by all means and tools against the Zionist occupier until our desired goals are achieved and the occupation is expelled from our holy sites and all of our lands," spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanou said.

Dimiter Tzantchev, the EU ambassador-designate to Israel, said in a statement on Twitter that his thoughts were "with the victims of the cowardly attack in the Old City of Jerusalem" and condemned "this senseless attack against civilians. Violence is never the answer".

Sunday's incident was the second of its kind in Jerusalem's historic Old City in recent days.

On Wednesday, a Palestinian teenager was fatally shot after stabbing two Israeli border police.

In that incident, the two officers were admitted to hospital and the teenager, identified by police as a 16-year-old from east Jerusalem, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Palestinians have carried out dozens of stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks targeting Israeli civilians and security personnel in recent years.

Palestinians and rights groups contend some of the alleged car-rammings were accidents and accuse Israel of using excessive force.

But shootings around Jerusalem's Old City and its holy sites are relatively rare, and Israel maintains a sizeable security presence in the area.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, including the Old City and its Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Middle East war.

It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move unrecognised by most of the international community.

The Palestinians seek the occupied West Bank and Gaza for a future independent state, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

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