According to the police, seven people were shot dead in a terrorist attack on visitors to a synagogue in an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem. Three others were injured, the Israeli police said late Friday evening. The assassin opened fire just as people were leaving the church after Shabbat prayers. The man was reportedly shot dead as he attempted to flee. According to initial findings, it was a 21-year-old from East Jerusalem.
Jerusalem has repeatedly been the scene of serious attacks in recent decades - especially during the second Palestinian uprising Intifada between 2000 and 2005. Most recently, a youth was killed and at least 18 other people injured in bomb attacks at two bus stops last November.
US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel called it an "absolutely appalling" act and strongly condemned the "obviously terrorist attack." The German ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, spoke on Twitter of a "nasty act of terrorism against Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day". "My condolences go out to the families of the murdered victims and I pray for the health of those injured." Green Party leader Omid Nouripour wrote: "A terrorist attack near a synagogue on Holocaust Remembrance Day cannot be surpassed in terms of cruelty."
situation significantly aggravated
The security situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories has deteriorated significantly in recent days. Militant Palestinians in Gaza and major West Bank cities held celebrations Friday night shortly after the terrorist attack. Eyewitnesses reported militants firing into the air and pouring into the streets.
Today more than 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim the territories for an independent state of Palestine with the Arab-influenced eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital.
A spokesman for the radical Islamist Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, said the attack was "retaliation for the Israeli army's attack on the Jenin refugee camp on Thursday". Nine Palestinians were killed and 20 others injured in a firefight with Israeli soldiers in the city. According to the human rights organization Betselem, it was the deadliest military attack in the area in more than 20 years.
Allied militant groups from the Gaza Strip then fired at least seven rockets at Israel on Friday night. Israeli warplanes then destroyed, among other things, an underground missile production facility in the coastal enclave.
Is a new escalation imminent?
The spiral of violence fuels fears of a further escalation of the already tense security situation. "We are walking a very fine line," said Michael Kobi from the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) of the German Press Agency. The dynamics can no longer be fully controlled and can tilt at any time. The main concern is that more and more young Palestinians are joining the uprising and are ready to fight - and die. "They are frustrated and willing to do anything to change their current situation."
The city of Jenin is less than 80 kilometers from Jerusalem as the crow flies and is one of the zones controlled solely by the Palestinian Authority. The city is considered a stronghold of militant Palestinians. These are closely linked to groups in the Gaza Strip. Iran-funded Islamic Jihad is primarily active there, regularly launching rocket attacks on Israel from the coastal enclave. It was initially unclear whether the organization was responsible for the rocket attacks on Friday.
Egypt and Katal are trying to de-escalate
According to reports from the Gaza Strip, Egypt and the Gulf state of Qatar worked hard on Thursday and Friday to avoid further escalation. Demands for de-escalation have also come from the USA. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected in the region next week. There will also be talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. A spokesman for the US State Department said all parties must work together to prevent further deaths.
The Palestinian Authority announced its cooperation with Israel on security issues on Thursday evening. The authority cited unilateral steps and measures taken by Israel in the West Bank and the incidents in Jenin as the reason. The autonomy authority had made similar announcements on previous occasions - but they were not actually implemented.
Deadly confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinians have been on an almost daily basis in the West Bank for almost a year. Since a series of attacks carried out by Palestinians in the spring, the Israeli army has been carrying out more raids there. In this year alone, around 30 Palestinians were killed in this connection or in their own attacks, including five young people.