Seven people were shot dead and at least three others were injured in a terrorist shooting at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood, police and medics said Friday night.
According to police, the terrorist arrived by car at 8:13 p.m. at the synagogue in the East Jerusalem neighborhood and opened fire on people outside the synagogue and other passers-by.
He then fled by car to the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina — several hundred meters away — where, about five minutes later, he encountered police who were called to the scene.
Police said the terrorist – an East Jerusalem resident – was shot after he got out of the car and opened fire on officers as he tried to escape on foot.
A handgun used in the attack was seized.
According to Channel 12 news, the terrorist first shot an elderly woman on the street, then met a motorcyclist and shot him, before reaching the Ateret Avraham synagogue and opening fire on people outside.
The first Magen David Adom doctor to arrive on the scene, Fadi Dekidek, said: “It was a very serious incident. We saw a woman and four men lying in the street. All had gunshot wounds and no signs of life.
The Magen David Adom said its doctors declared five dead at the scene, and two other victims were pronounced dead in Jerusalem hospitals.
Speaking to reporters on site, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said the attack was one of the worst Israel had seen in years.
“The terrorist shot everyone he met. He got out of the car and started a murderous rampage with a handgun,” Shabtai said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking after visiting the scene, called the attack «one of the most serious we’ve seen in years.»
“Our hearts are with the families. I commend the police who acted so quickly,” Netanyahu said. “We must act with determination and composure. I call on people not to take justice into their own hands.
He said the cabinet would meet on Saturday, adding: «We have decided on several immediate measures which will start this evening.»
The police officer who shot the terrorist met Netanyahu at the scene.
«The vehicle stopped, the terrorist drew his weapon,» the officer said. «I continued to move quickly towards him and closed in on him as he fired at us.»
“We stopped the patrol car, took out our weapons, the terrorist went to the other side. We shot him and he fell. We moved around and saw that he was still moving and trying to return his gun. We neutralized him,” the officer said.
Bystander video released by Channel 12 reportedly showed the shootout between police and the terrorist.
Documentation: The moment the terrorist was neutralized during the Jerusalem bombing
The policeman who neutralized the terrorist said: “He shot at us while running. After we shot him, he tried to take his gun.@sapirlipkin pic.twitter.com/J85Zi7QiLU
– The News – N12 (@N12News) January 27, 2023
With seven dead, the shooting in Jerusalem was the deadliest terror attack since 2011, when terrorists entered Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing eight Israelis. It is the deadliest Palestinian terror attack since 2008, when an East Jerusalem gunman killed eight Israeli students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the capital.
MDA said the dead were five men, aged 20, 25, 30, 50 and 60, and two women, aged 60 and 70.
The victims were not immediately named.
The injured included a 15-year-old boy in moderate to serious condition, a 24-year-old man in moderate condition and a 60-year-old woman, also in moderate condition.
The victims had been transported to Hadassah Mount Scopus and Shaare Zedek hospitals.
Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman, speaking to reporters at the scene, said the terrorist acted alone.
Dozens of officers were dispatched to the scene, police said.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who is in charge of the police, arrived at the scene of the attack, was briefed by officers, and then accompanied Netanyahu to the prime minister’s arrival. Citizens at the scene shouted various comments at the minister; some were shouting “Death to terrorists”.
«It’s on your watch!» shouted a man. «Let’s see what you do now.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who was in the United States on a personal trip, was due to return to Israel on Friday evening after the attack, his office said.
Netanyahu conducted an assessment with senior security officials before visiting the scene of the attack.
Following the assessment, IDF chief Herzi Halevi issued instructions to reinforce forces in the West Bank and along its security fence, and to prepare for a possible escalation in the area.
Local residents told Channel 12 it took police 20 minutes to arrive. «It’s a shame,» said an anguished man.
Police responded to the charge, saying their records showed officers arrived on the scene and killed the terrorist within five minutes of the first reports of gunshots.
Shalom Borohov, a barber who lives near the synagogue, told AFP that after hearing gunshots he «came downstairs to help people».
“I saw the terrorist arrive with his car. He stopped in the middle of the intersection and fired from his car,” continuing to fire as people arrived at the scene, he said.
The terrorist was named by the Shin Bet security agency as Alqam Khayri, 21, an East Jerusalem resident with no prior terrorism-related offenses.
The police reportedly operated in the neighborhood of at-Tur, where Khayri reportedly lived. Palestinian media said the shooter’s father had been summoned by police for questioning.
The assailant’s name was Khairy Alqam (not the other way around), 21, from Jerusalem pic.twitter.com/Bn5OJGqlrx
– Younes Al-Zaatari # Looking at the enemy (@YounesZaatari) January 27, 2023
Palestinian media reported that celebrations were held in the Gaza Strip and several Palestinian towns in the West Bank following the deadly attack.
press coverage:#Photo Celebrations in the city of Nablus after the Jerusalem operation. pic.twitter.com/pkWebQ2as7
– Palestinian Information Center (@PalinfoAr) January 27, 2023
Friday’s deadly attack came after days of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Tensions have risen dramatically since Thursday morning, when an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank on a terror cell left nine Palestinians dead – most of them gunmen and members of the cell, although at least one civilian was killed. also was killed.
The IDF said Thursday’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp was necessary to thwart imminent attack plans by a local Islamic Jihad terror cell. The group had primed explosives and firearms, according to the IDF.
Hamas hailed Friday’s attack as a response to Thursday’s IDF operation, but no terror group took responsibility for it.
Thursday night saw rocket fire from Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes, though both sides appeared determined to avoid an escalation into full-scale war.
Tensions were also high in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount on Friday, although Muslim prayers went smoothly.
AFP contributed to this report.