A man opened fire on people leaving the synagogue on the evening of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Seven people were killed.
After an attack on visitors to a synagogue in East Jerusalem that left seven dead, Israel announced consistent action. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said security forces “will act decisively and vigorously against terrorism and will reach out to all those 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 health status is stable. According to police, the killer was shot while trying to flee. According to initial findings, he was a 21-year-old from East Jerusalem. So he acted alone. However, the investigation continued, it was said in the evening.
“Act decisively and calmly”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the crime scene at night and urged people not to take the law into their own hands. “For that we have an army and a police force that take instructions from the cabinet.” The security office was therefore summoned for Saturday night. “We will act decisively and calmly.” Meanwhile, Israel’s right-wing police minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, called on citizens “to be better armed to prevent such attacks”. “Death to the Arabs” could be heard chanting from the surrounding crowd, AFP journalists reported. In Palestinian cities like Ramallah in the West Bank, crowds cheered the massacre and waved Palestinian flags.
Today, more than 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israeli settlement activities are seen by much of the world community as a flagrant violation of current international law. The Palestinians claim the territories for an independent state of Palestine, with the Arab-influenced eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital. Jerusalem has repeatedly been the scene of serious attacks – especially during the second Palestinian Intifada uprising between 2000 and 2005. Last November, a young man was killed and at least 18 others were injured in bomb attacks on two bus stops.
US agrees to help
The United States immediately pledged support to Israel. US President Joe Biden offered Prime Minister Netanyahu “every reasonable means of support” in a telephone conversation, the White House said on Friday. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who plans to travel to Israel and Jordan in a few days, had already condemned the attack on a synagogue in a Jerusalem suburb as a “terrible terrorist attack”. “We remain in close contact with our Israeli partners and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” Blinken said in a statement on Friday.
The attack was strongly condemned internationally. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said it was “particularly despicable that this attack took place on a religious site and on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day”. The German ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, wrote of a “malicious act of terrorism against Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day”.
Van der Bellen: Efforts to de-escalate
Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen condemned the “terrible attack” in the strongest possible terms and was “deeply concerned about the spiral of violence in recent days”. “It is important that all sides strive to de-escalate,” Van der Bellen wrote in a personally signed tweet in English late on Saturday. “There is no excuse for attacking places of worship,” the Vienna Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote on Twitter. “The attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem makes it painfully clear that we must continue to fight anti-Semitism and terrorism with determination,” tweeted Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP). “Terror means only destruction and murder. It is our common task to fight terrorism decisively.”
A spokesman for the radical Islamist Hamas, which governs 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 another 20 wounded in a shootout with Israeli soldiers in the city. According to human rights organization Betselem, it was the deadliest military attack in the area in over 20 years.
Allied militant groups in the Gaza Strip fired at least seven rockets at Israel late on Friday. Israeli warplanes destroyed, among other things, an underground missile production facility in the coastal enclave.
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 of the German Press Agency’s Israeli Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). 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 in a straight line and is one of the zones controlled exclusively by the Palestinian Authority. The city is considered a stronghold of Palestinian militants. These are closely linked to groups in the Gaza Strip. Iran-funded Islamic Jihad is mostly active there, regularly launching rocket attacks against Israel from the coastal enclave. It was initially unclear whether the organization was responsible for the rocket attacks on Friday.
Clashes almost every day for a year
According to reports from the Gaza Strip, Egypt and the Gulf state of Qatar worked hard on Thursday and Friday to avoid further escalation. The Palestinian Authority announced its cooperation with Israel on security matters late on Thursday. The official cited unilateral measures and measures taken by Israel in the West Bank and the incidents in Jenin as the reason. The autonomy authority has made similar announcements on previous occasions – but they have not actually been implemented.
Deadly clashes between Israeli and Palestinian security forces have taken place almost daily in the West Bank for nearly a year. Since a series of attacks carried out by Palestinians in the spring, the Israeli army has carried out more attacks there. This year alone, around 30 Palestinians have been killed in this connection or in their own attacks, including five youths.