JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s National Rescue Service Mada said a gunman killed five people and injured three others in a shooting near a synagogue Friday night in East Jerusalem in one of the attacks deadliest against Israelis in years. The shooter was shot and reportedly killed.
The killings came a day after Israeli troops killed nine Palestinians in the deadliest raid in the West Bank in years.
Among the injured is a septuagenarian in critical condition, the medical service said.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinians marched in anger Friday as they buried the last of 10 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire a day earliereven as the likelihood of a major conflagration seemed to diminish after the deadliest Israeli raid in two decades.
Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters broke out after the funeral of a 22-year-old Palestinian man north of Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, but calm reigned in the disputed capital and the blockaded Gaza Strip.
No serious incidents were reported on Friday, and the parties to the conflict did not seem interested in escalating the situation further.
Thursday’s raid in the Jenin refugee camp escalated into a shootout that killed at least nine Palestinians, while clashes elsewhere left a tenth dead. Gaza militants then fired rockets and Israel carried out airstrikes overnight – but the exchange was limited, following a familiar pattern that allows both sides to respond without leading to a major flare-up.
The situation poses a challenge to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken ahead of his trip to the region on Sunday. He will likely discuss the underlying causes of the continuing escalating conflict, the agenda of Israel’s new far-right government and the Palestinian Authority’s decision to end security coordination with Israel in retaliation for the murderous raid.
The Biden administration has been deeply engaged with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in recent days, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, stressing the «urgent need here for all parties to defuse to prevent further loss of civilian life and work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank.
«We are certainly deeply concerned about this cycle of escalating violence in the West Bank as well as the rockets that have apparently been fired from Gaza,» Kirby said. «And of course, we condemn all acts that only escalate tensions.»
Israel’s defense minister, meanwhile, has ordered the military to prepare for further strikes in the Gaza Strip «if necessary» – also appearing to leave open the possibility that the violence will subside.
While residents of Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank remained jittery on Friday, midday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, often a catalyst for clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, passed off in relative calm.
At the 22-year-old’s funeral, crowds of Palestinians waved the flags of Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority, and militant Hamas, which rules Gaza. In the streets of the town called al-Ram, masked Palestinians threw rocks and fired fireworks at Israeli police, who responded with tear gas.
But Palestinian rockets and Israeli airstrikes seemed limited in order to avoid turning into a full-fledged war. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several minor skirmishes since the militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
Palestinian rockets were fired into southern Israel, while non-lethal Israeli airstrikes targeted targets in Gaza, such as training camps and an underground rocket manufacturing site.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant claimed that the army had dealt a «hard blow» to Palestinian militants in Gaza and said the army was preparing to hit «high quality targets…until that peace will be restored for the citizens of Israel».
Israeli police were out in force in Jerusalem as dozens of Muslim worshipers gathered to pray in the stone courtyard of Al-Aqsa Mosque and sang in solidarity with those killed in the Jenin raid.
Tensions over the holy site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, have sparked violence in the past, including a bloody war in Gaza in 2021. The site is considered the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest place in Judaism.
«In spirit and blood we will sacrifice you,» cried the Muslim worshipers. “Greetings Jenin, greetings Gaza.
Eyad Shaher, a 45-year-old construction worker from Bethlehem who prays weekly at Al-Aqsa, said he was relieved to have a peaceful morning.
«Thank goodness it was fine and there were no problems after that damn day,» he said, referring to events on Thursday.
Tensions have skyrocketed since Israel intensified its raids in the West Bank last spring, following a series of Palestinian attacks. Jenin, which was an important militant stronghold during the 2000-2005 intifada and has re-emerged as such, has been at the center of many Israeli operations. Among the dead in Thursday’s raid were seven activists and a 61-year-old woman.
Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem last year, making 2022 the deadliest in those territories since 2004, according to leading Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Last year, 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
So far this year, 30 Palestinians have been killed, according to an Associated Press tally.
Israel says most of the dead were militants. But young people protesting the incursions and others not involved in the clashes were also killed.
Anwar Gargash, a senior diplomat in the United Arab Emirates, warned that «Israeli escalation in Jenin is dangerous and disturbing and undermines international efforts to advance the priority of the peace agenda.» The United Arab Emirates recognized Israel in 2020 along with Bahrain, which has remained silent on rising violence.
News of those killed in Jenin and nightly rockets rang out from phones and radios Friday in Jerusalem’s Old City as young Palestinians strolled and women sold raisins.
Ibrahim Salameh, a 21-year-old smoking on the steps of Damascus Gate, said he had never been so scared. On Wednesday, he said, his teenage neighbor was killed as police entered Shuafat refugee camp to demolish the house of an attacker.
“Every day there is more and more fear, more tension,” he said. «Somehow I live with this idea that at any moment I could be shot.»
In the West Bank, Fatah announced a general strike and most shops were closed in Palestinian towns. The PA said Thursday it would end ties its security forces have with Israel in a joint effort to contain Islamic militants. Previous threats were short-livedin part because of the benefits the authority derives from the relationship, and also because of American and Israeli pressure.
The PA has limited control over scattered enclaves in the West Bank, and almost none over militant strongholds like the Jenin camp.
Israel says its raids are intended to dismantle militant networks and thwart attacks. The Palestinians say they are further entrenching Israel’s 55-year and endless occupation of the West Bank, which Israel captured along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. that these territories form an eventual state.
Israel has established dozens of settlements in the West Bank that house 500,000 people. Palestinians and much of the international community view the settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace, even as talks to end the conflict have been moribund for more than a decade.
Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.