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Peace and Conflict

Seven killed, three injured in Jerusalem synagogue massacre

In the worst murderous rampage Israel has known in years, seven people were killed in a shooting attack outside a synagogue in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Neve Yaakov on Friday evening.

Source: Jerusalem Post

The 21-year-old terrorist – a resident of east Jerusalem – arrived outside the Ateret Avraham synagogue at around 8 p.m. and opened fire at people walking nearby. He then attempted to flee the scene by car and fired in the direction of Israel Police officers who fired back and killed him.

After a second terrorist attack in the City of David on Saturday morning, the IDF bolstered its forces in the West Bank with three additional battalions. In addition, since Friday night, the police had arrested over 40 suspects who were taken in for questioning to determine if the attacker had assistance.

By Saturday night, three of the victims were identified as: Eli Mizrachi, 48, his wife Natalie Mizrachi, 45, Rafael Ben-Eliyahu, 56, and Asher Natan, 14.

The security cabinet convened on Saturday night to discuss responses to the attack. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said he would demand the immediate sealing of the terrorist’s home, the legislation of a death penalty for terrorists and the easing of regulations so more Israelis can receive permits to carry sidearms.

One of the people who was near the synagogue on Friday night during the attack said that it took the police a long time to arrive at the scene since it initially thought that the shots that were fired were fired in the air – as often happens - in nearby east Jerusalem neighbourhoods.

Large police forces arrived at the scene and began searching for additional attackers. Helicopters were dispatched to assist in the searches.

“I went from one victim to the next to see who to help,” said Fadi Dikdak, a Magen David Adom paramedic who was one of the first at the scene. “It was very difficult and hard to see. We had to check all of the wounded and see who we can help and who we cannot.”

When the police arrived at the scene, the terrorist – later identified as Kheiry Alkam from A-Tur in east Jerusalem – opened fire in their direction. The policemen returned fire and killed him.

The IDF arrested the terrorist's parents and surrounded his house in the neighbourhood of A-Tur in east Jerusalem just hours after the attack.

Celebrations, including fireworks and guns being shot in the air, were witnessed in Jenin, Gaza and other Palestinian areas in the West Bank.

Five wounded were evacuated to the Hadassah-University Medical Centers Mount Scopus and Shaare Zedek. Of them, a 30-year-old man and a 70-year-old woman arrived in critical condition and were pronounced dead at the hospital, a 15-year-old boy was in moderate to serious condition, a 24-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman were in moderate condition.

"This was one of the worst attacks we have known in recent years, our hearts go out to the families of the wounded and dead. We have assessed the situation and decided on some immediate actions, we will act decisively and calmly," Netanyahu said during a visit to Jerusalem hours after the attack.

"I call on citizens not to take the law into their own hands, for that we have an army and police who receive instructions from the cabinet," Netanyahu said.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai arrived at the scene and said: "This is one of the hardest terror attacks we've seen in recent years... to our knowledge, this terrorist acted alone. We are continuing to scan the area." Shabtai also said that some officers were ordered to work 12-hour shifts in order to increase alertness to any danger.

"This is a serious and sad attack on Shabbat evening, targeting civilians. I am sending condolences to the families of the murdered and wishing a speedy recovery to the injured. The security establishment under my leadership will act hard and without compromise against terrorism and will get to all those involved in the attack," Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said that the attack was a response to the IDF operation in Jenin on Thursday during which nine Palestinians were killed. "This operation is a response to the crime conducted by the occupation in Jenin and a natural response to the occupation's criminal actions,” he said.

Ben-Gvir also arrived at the scene of the attack, where he was met with anger from the crowds on the side, who accused him of being responsible for the attack, yelling "we loved you, Itamar. We trusted you. This was on your watch."

Chants of "death to terrorists" could be heard on the sidelines as Ben-Gvir attempted to speak.

At one point, chants of "death to leftists" began to pick up, although Ben-Gvir silenced them, telling them that while they could chant for the death of terrorists, wishing for the death of leftists was not acceptable.

Israeli, world leaders condemn deadly attack

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said: "My heart breaks in these harsh times. I send my condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and a quick recovery to the injured. Terrorism must not be allowed to rear its head anywhere. These threats must be dealt with harshly."

Condemnations and condolence calls were issued from around the world, including from US President Joe Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other heads of state.

Ra'am chairman MK Mansour Abbas responded to the terror attack, saying he "condemns and rejects any terrorist attack in which innocent civilians are murdered.

"I am convinced that this action and others like it will distance the possibility of finding a solution to the conflict and realizing the vision of peace, mutual security, partnership and tolerance in the Holy Land," he added. "I urge everyone to exercise restraint and cooperate to find a way to calm the situation and to save the lives of many people."