Israel’s national rescue service, MADA, initially confirmed five deaths and five other people wounded, including a 70-year-old woman, a 60-year-old woman and a teenage boy. Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital later said one man in his 40s had died from his wounds.
The attack, which took place as worshippers were celebrating the Jewish Sabbath, came a day after an Israeli military raid killed nine people in the West Bank. The new attack set off public celebrations in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where people fired guns into the air, honked car 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.
The shooting was the deadliest on Israelis since a 2008 shooting killed eight people in a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Given the location and timing, it threatened to trigger a tough response from Israel.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant scheduled a meeting with his army chief and other top security officials.
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 a series of airstrikes on targets in Gaza. No casualties were reported. Earlier in the day, Gallant had ordered Israel to prepare for new action in Gaza “if necessary.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday’s shooting. In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the attack was “a revenge and natural response” to the killing of nine Palestinians in Jenin on Thursday.
Israeli police said the attack occurred in Neve Yaakov, a Jewish area in east Jerusalem. It said forces rushed to the scene and shot the gunman. “The terrorist was neutralized,” it said, using a term that typically means an attacker has been killed. There was no immediate confirmation of his condition.
At several locations across the Gaza Strip, dozens of Palestinians gathered in spontaneous demonstrations to celebrate the Jerusalem attack, with some coming out of dessert shops with large trays of sweets to distribute. In downtown Gaza City, celebratory gunfire could be heard, as cars honked and calls of “God is great!” wafted from mosque loudspeakers. In the West Bank town of Jericho, Palestinians launched fireworks and honked horns in celebration.
The attack escalated tensions that were already heightened following the deadly military raid in the West Bank town of Jenin — where nine people, including at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman, were killed. It was the deadliest single raid in the West Bank in two decades. A 10th Palestinian was killed in separate fighting near Jerusalem.
Palestinians had marched in anger earlier Friday as they buried the last of the 10 Palestinians killed a day earlier.
Scuffles between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters erupted after the funeral for a 22-year-old Palestinian north of Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, but calm prevailed in the contested capital and in the blockaded Gaza Strip for most of the day.