Times Standard (Eureka)

Palestinia­n gunman kills at least 7 near Jerusalem synagogue

- By Josef Federman and Isabel Debre

A Palestinia­n gunman opened fire outside an east Jerusalem synagogue Friday night, killing seven people, including a 70-yearold woman, and wounding three others before he was shot and killed by police, officials said. It was the deadliest attack on Israelis in years and raised the likelihood of more bloodshed.

The attack on worshipper­s celebratin­g the Jewish Sabbath came a day after an Israeli military raid killed nine people in the West Bank. The new attack set off celebratio­ns in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where people fired guns into the air, honked horns and distribute­d sweets.

The burst of violence, which also included a rocket barrage from Gaza and retaliator­y Israeli airstrikes, has posed an early challenge for Israel’s new government, which is dominated by ultranatio­nalists who have pushed for a hard line against Palestinia­n violence. It also cast a cloud over a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region Sunday.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the U.S. strongly condemned the attack and was “shocked and saddend by the lose of life,” noting it came on Internatio­nal Holocaust Remembranc­e Day.

The United States will extend our full support to the government and people of Israel,” she said.

Israeli police said the shootings occurred in Neve Yaakov, a religious neighborho­od in east Jerusalem with a large ultra Orthodox population, and that the gunman fled in a car after opening fire. Police said they chased after him and after an exchange of fire, killed him.

Jerusalem police chief Doron Turjeman confirmed seven deaths, in addition to the shooter, and said three people were wounded.

Police identified the attacker as a 21-year-old east Jerusalem resident who apparently acted alone. Turjeman promised an “aggressive and significan­t” effort to track down anyone who had helped him.

Police also released a photo of the pistol it said was used by the attacker.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant huddled with Israel’s military chief and other top security officials and instructed them to assist police and strengthen defenses near Jerusalem and for Jewish settlement­s in the occupied West Bank.

“Israel’s defense establishm­ent will operate decisively and forcefully against terror and will reach anyone involved in the attack,” Gallant said.

Israel’s MADA rescue service said the dead included a 70-year-old woman. Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital later said a 15-year-old boy was recovering from surgery.

The bloodshed was the deadliest on Israelis since a 2008 shooting killed eight people in a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, according to the Foreign Ministry. Given the location and timing, it threatened to trigger a tough response from Israel.

Overnight Thursday, Gaza militants fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel, with all of them either intercepte­d or landing in open areas. Israel responded with airstrikes on targets in Gaza. No casualties were reported and calm appeared to be taking hold before Friday night’s shooting.

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