Conflicts & War

7 Israelis slain at synagogue in East Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Jan 27 (EFE).- Seven people were killed and three others wounded Friday night when an assailant opened fire at a synagogue in East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities said.

The shooter arrived at the building by car was subsequently “neutralized” in a nearby Palestinian neighborhood, police said.

The attack took place in Neve Yaakov, a Jewish settlement in mainly Arab East Jerusalem, and police arrived to find a group of Palestinians celebrating the assault as revenge for the deaths Thursday of nine Palestinians during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Police identified the shooter as a 21-year-old Palestinian man who lived in East Jerusalem and said that he apparently acted alone.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the attack as “one of the most severe we have known in years.”

“Our hearts are with the families. I commend the police officers who took action so quickly,” he said at the scene. “We must act with determination and composure. I call on people not to take the law into their own hands.”

After announcing a Cabinet meeting Saturday to determine the response, he added that he and his colleagues “have decided on several immediate steps that will begin tonight.”

“The security establishment under my leadership will act with a strong hand and without compromise against terror and will reach all those involved in the attack,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement.

Both Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza, and the smaller Islamic Jihad organization praised the attack, though neither claimed responsibility.

The shooting was “a response to the crime conducted by the occupation in Jenin and a natural response to the occupation’s criminal actions,” Hamas spokesman Hazam Qassem said.

As news of the attack spread, cheering and bursts of celebratory gunfire rang out in several West Bank cities, including Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin.

The day began with multiple Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in response to five rockets launched at Israel from the coastal strip in the wake of the Palestinian deaths in Jenin.

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson said that jets bombed a location in Maghazi housing an underground training center and rocket factory used by Hamas.

Three of the five rockets were intercepted by Israel’s air defense system, another landed in an unpopulated area and the fifth one exploded inside Gaza, according to the IDF.

The rockets caused no casualties or damage.

Gaza residents told Efe that they heard the roar of drones and warplanes before the explosions.

Palestinian medical sources said no injuries were reported as a result of the airstrikes.

Describing Thursday’s events in Jenin as a “massacre,” the Palestinian National Authority, which exercises limited self-government in the West Bank, terminated security coordination with Israel.

The IDF said that soldiers came under fire while trying to arrest members of Islamic Jihad wanted for their involvement “in planning and executing multiple major terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers.”

Six suspects were “neutralized” in an exchange of gunfire and another turned himself in, the IDF said on Twitter.

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