The situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories has been extremely tense for days. Israel is now experiencing one of the worst attacks in years – and is preparing for further escalation.
After an attack on visitors to a synagogue in East Jerusalem that left seven dead, Israel has announced consistent action. Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant said late Friday evening that the security forces would “act decisively and vigorously against terrorism and reach out to everyone involved in the attack.” Security forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank have already been strengthened.
An assailant opened fire on people leaving a synagogue after Shabbat prayers on the evening of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Seven people died in the incident in the Israeli settlement of Neve Yaakov and three others were injured. According to the hospital, her condition is stable.
Police shoot assassins
The assassin was shot while attempting to escape, police said. According to initial findings, it was a 21-year-old from East Jerusalem. So he acted alone. However, the investigation continued, it was said at night.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the local population not to take the law into their own hands. “For this we have an army and a police force that receive instructions from the cabinet.” The security cabinet was therefore convened for Saturday evening. “We will act decisively and calmly.” Meanwhile, Israel’s right-wing extremist police minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, called for citizens “to be better armed to avoid such attacks.”
Jerusalem has repeatedly been the scene of serious attacks in recent decades – especially during the second Palestinian uprising between 2000 and 2005. Last November, a youth was killed and at least 18 others injured in bomb attacks at two bus stops.
The act on Friday evening caused horror internationally. The US government is “shocked and saddened” by the loss of life, the White House said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the people of Israel after the terrorist attack in Jerusalem,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned the attack, according to his spokesman. Guterres is “deeply concerned about the current escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.”
The German ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, spoke of a “sick 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,” he wrote on Twitter.
The attack on civilians at the time of prayer and on the international day of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust is particularly despicable, the French foreign ministry said. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly promised Israel support. “Attacking believers in front of a synagogue on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and that during Shabbat, is terrible,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday evening. “We stand by our Israeli friends.”
On January 27, 1945, Red Army soldiers liberated the survivors of the German concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz in occupied Poland. The Nazis had murdered more than a million people there.
Hamas speaks of “retaliation”
Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank responded to the terrorist attack with celebrations. Eyewitnesses reported militants shooting up in the air and pouring into the streets last night. 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”.
The day before, there had been violent clashes in several places in the West Bank. The trigger was a raid in Jenin, in which Israeli soldiers engaged in a firefight with militant Palestinians. Nine people were killed, including several members of the Palestinian militant organization Islamic Jihad.
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there today. The Palestinians claim the territories for an independent state of Palestine with the Arab-influenced eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.