JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) – A Palestinian youth opened fire outside an East Jerusalem synagogue on Friday, killing seven people, including a 70-year-old woman, as well as wounding three others, before police shot him dead Killed. It was the deadliest attack on Israelis in years and raised the prospect of more bloodshed.
The attack occurred as worshipers were observing the Jewish Sabbath, a day after Israeli troops killed nine Palestinians in a raid in the West Bank. The new attack sparked public celebrations in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with people firing guns into the air, honking horns and distributing sweets.
The outbreak of violence, which has also included rocket fire from Gaza and retaliatory Israeli shelling, represents a challenge to the new Israeli government, dominated by ultranationalists who have advocated taking a hard line against Palestinian violence.
Israeli police said the attack took place in Neve Ya’akov in East Jerusalem.
Jerusalem police chief Doron Turjeman told reporters that the shooter was killed after fleeing in a car, was stopped and a shootout ensued.
He confirmed the death of seven people besides the attacker and said three people were injured.
Police identified the attacker as a 21-year-old East Jerusalem resident who apparently acted on his own. Turjeman promises to track down anyone who helps him.
Police also released a picture of the gun they claim was used by the attacker.
Israel’s Mada rescue service said a 70-year-old woman was among the dead. Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital later said a 15-year-old boy was recovering from surgery.
According to Israel’s foreign ministry, it was the worst massacre of Israelis since 2008, when eight people were shot dead at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for Friday’s firing. In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasim said the attack was “a natural reaction and revenge” for the killing of nine Palestinians in Jenin on Thursday by Israeli forces.
Associated Press writer John Gambrel in Dubai contributed to this report.