Synagogue shooting: Israeli army reinforces in West Bank, PM Netanyahu reacts

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The attacks came towards the end of a month of escalating confrontation and following an Israeli incursion into the West Bank that killed nine Palestinians, including seven gunmen, and cross-border fire between Israel and Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet was due to meet later on Saturday.

Israel’s response to an attack by a Palestinian gunman that killed seven people outside Jerusalem will be “strong, swift and precise,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.

Friday’s attack in front of a synagogue was the deadliest in the Jerusalem area since 2008. The gunman, Khaire Alkam, was a 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem. Among the dead was a 14-year-old boy, police said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the shooting and Alkam’s father told Reuters his son had no ties to militants. He struck in an area that Israel annexed to Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East war in a move not internationally recognized.

Police said he had tried to drive away, but officers chased him and shot him dead. Forty-two suspects, including his family members, were arrested, police said.

On Saturday, police said a 13-year-old Palestinian boy opened fire on a group of bystanders, wounding two people, before one of them shot and wounded him.

That incident took place around Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood that lies below the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The attacks underscore the potential for an escalation of violence after months of worsening fighting in the West Bank. At least 30 Palestinians, militants and civilians, have been killed there since early 2023.

The Israeli forces’ raid on Jenin on Thursday was the deadliest such incident in years.

Israel’s army said Saturday it would send an additional battalion to the West Bank.

“The region is heading for an unprecedented escalation,” said Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip.

Visiting a Jerusalem hospital treating victims, Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said he would seek to increase the number of weapons permits. “I want weapons on the street. I want Israeli citizens to be able to protect themselves,” he said.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who heads the pro-settler Religious Zionism party, said he would demand speeding up plans to build Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which his party hopes will eventually be annexed.

Both Ben-Gvir and Smotrich are members of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, but there was no indication that he would comply with their demands, some of which have been made in the past.


Police said the gunman in Friday’s attack arrived at 8:15 p.m. and opened fire with a pistol, hitting several people before police killed him.

Shimon Israel, 56, who lives nearby, said his family was starting their Saturday dinner when they heard gunshots and screams. He opened the window and saw his neighbor running down the street to call the police.

“I told him, ‘Eli, don’t go there. Eli, don’t go. She got married just a year ago. A good neighbor, like a brother. She ran. I saw it fall there,” Israel told Reuters.

“Natali, his wife, ran after him. She saw someone here and was trying to resuscitate him. The terrorist came and shot her in the back and caught her too,” he said.

The gunman was a relative of a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead Wednesday in clashes with Israeli forces in a Jerusalem refugee camp, his family said.

His father, Moussa Alkam, said he did not know if his son was seeking revenge. “He is neither the first nor the last young man to be martyred and what he did is a source of pride,” Alkam said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not mention the shootings in a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, blaming Israel for the escalation of violence.

Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which has limited governing powers in the West Bank, suspended security cooperation agreements with Israel after the deadly attack on Jenin.


The shooting on Friday, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was condemned by the White House and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who urged “maximum restraint.” It arrived days before a planned visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israel and the West Bank.

A Ukrainian woman was among the dead, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in Kyiv.

Jordan and Egypt, Arab countries that have signed peace treaties with Israel, condemned the shooting as did the United Arab Emirates, one of several Arab states that normalized relations with Israel just over two years ago.

Saudi Arabia, which has no formal ties to Israel, condemned the attacks on civilians and said an escalation of violence needed to be halted.

The Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah praised the attack and Hamas hailed it as a response to Thursday’s raid on Jenin, as did the smaller Islamic Jihad.

Earlier on Friday, militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel, causing no casualties but sparking Israeli airstrikes on the blockaded coastline.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said on Friday that three Palestinians were taken to hospital after they were shot by an Israeli settler in the northern West Bank.

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