At least seven dead near a synagogue, the assailant “neutralized”

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A sad day. Seven people were killed on Friday by a gunman who opened fire near a synagogue in East Jerusalem during the beginning of Shabbat prayers before being himself shot, the latest episode in a new bout of deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Seven civilians” were killed by an armed assailant who opened fire around 8:15 p.m. (6:15 p.m. local time) on the street near this synagogue in Neve Yaacov, a Jewish settlement neighborhood in East Jerusalem, part of the Holy City annexed by Israel, according to an Israeli police statement.

The assailant killed

It is “one of the worst attacks in recent years” against Israelis, police chief Kobi Shabtai told Israeli television. Police say the shooter, a 21-year-old Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, was shot dead by officers after he fled in a car.

The attack, which occurs in a context of new violence between Israelis and Palestinians for 36 hours, was immediately condemned by Washington. “It’s absolutely appalling,” State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“We condemn this apparent terrorist attack in the strongest terms”, he added, specifying that there was no change in the program of the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, who must go to from Sunday in Egypt then Monday and Tuesday in Jerusalem and Ramallah. He will discuss “measures to be taken for a de-escalation of tensions”, he added.

The Magen David Adom (MDA), the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross, said it had identified a total of ten victims hit by bullets, including a 70-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy.

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High balance sheet

Israeli Minister of Internal Security Itamar Ben Gvir, a figure of the far right, went to the scene of the attack, where AFP journalists could see three corpses lying in the street. “I heard a lot of bullets,” Matanel Almalem, an 18-year-old student living next to the synagogue, told AFP.

The shooting comes the day after the death of nine Palestinians in a raid by the Israeli armed forces in the camp of Jenin, a city in the north of the occupied West Bank. The raid, which also left dozens injured, targeted the Islamic Jihad group which was planning an attack in Israel, according to Israeli sources. A tenth Palestinian was killed Thursday by Israeli fire in Al-Ram, near Ramallah, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The United Nations has not recorded such a high toll in a single Israeli operation in the West Bank since it began counting the victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2005.

Defuse escalation?

In retaliation, rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, under the control of the Hamas movement. Israel responded immediately with strikes against the Palestinian micro-territory. No casualties were recorded in this pass of arms. In response to the Israeli raid in Jenin, the Palestinian Authority decided to end security cooperation with Israel, a first since 2020.

France urged Israel and the Palestinians “to refrain from fueling the escalation” and the United States said it was “deeply concerned about the escalation of violence”. For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday that his country was “not looking for escalation” but was preparing “for all scenarios”.

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