By Yemeli Ortega
Jerusalem, Jan 28 (EFE).- Jerusalem was on high alert on Saturday after two gun attacks in less than 24 hours which killed at least seven Israelis and wounded five.
The shootings come amid an escalation of violence that also saw 10 Palestinians die in a single day earlier this week.
The latest attack occurred on Saturday morning in the City of David settlement, in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem.
Two people were wounded, with Israeli police saying the suspect – identified as a 13-year-old Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem – had been “neutralized”. The attacker, who reportedly acted alone, is in “serious condition”, according to the official Israeli Army Radio.
That shooting followed another on Friday night, when a man opened fire at a synagogue in Neve Ya’akov, another Jewish settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, killing seven people and wounding three.
It was the deadliest attack on Israeli soil since 2011, when an armed group crossed into Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and killed eight people.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his national security minister, the far-right, anti-Arab settler Itamar Ben Gvir, visited the scene but did not make a statement to the press.
The attacker attempted to flee in his car, but was killed by police after a chase and shootout.
Although the identity of the assailant has not yet been revealed, the local press has identified him as a 21-year-old Palestinian with no prior record.
“As part of the investigation into the shooting attack, (…) the Jerusalem District Police arrested 42 suspects, some of them from the terrorist’s family, relatives and close associates,” police said in a statement, adding that the security alert had been raised to its “highest level.”
Israel’s allies around the world condemned the attack in Jerusalem, with Washington’s ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides denouncing the “horrific act of violence,” as did the European Union’s envoy and the French ambassador.
As news of the synagogue shooting spread, cheering and bursts of celebratory gunfire rang out in several West Bank cities, including Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin.
Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza, and the smaller Islamic Jihad organization praised the attack, though neither claimed responsibility.
Hamas spokesman Hazam Qassem said the shooting was “a response to the crime conducted by the occupation in Jenin” on Thursday in which nine Palestinians were killed during armed clashes with Israeli troops during a raid on a refugee camp which the Palestinian National Authority described as a “massacre.”
In a statement, UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said he was “deeply alarmed and saddened by the continuing cycle of violence in the occupied West Bank” and urged both sides to “de-escalate tensions, restore calm and avoid further conflict.”
Last year, 170 Palestinians – militants as well as unarmed civilians – were killed in the West Bank in incidents with Israel, the highest death toll since 2006. EFE