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Jerusalem shooting: Thirteen-year-old Palestinian held over second attack in days

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Image source, Reuters

A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was behind a shooting in Jerusalem on Saturday, Israeli police have said.

Two people – an Israeli father and son – were seriously wounded. The attacker was shot and injured by passers by and is being held in hospital.

It came after seven people were killed, and at least three more injured, in a shooting on Friday at a synagogue in East Jerusalem.

Police have arrested 42 people in connection with that attack.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s response to the attacks would be “strong, swift and precise”.

Ahead of a meeting of his security cabinet, Mr Netanyahu called for calm and urged citizens to allow security forces to carry out their tasks. He also thanked several world leaders – including US President Joe Biden – for their support.

Describing Saturday’s incident, which took place in the Silwan neighbourhood just outside Jerusalem’s Old City, a spokesperson for the Israeli police previously said the assailant ambushed five people as they made their way to prayers, leaving two in a “critical condition”.

“This is a significant rise in the level of terror,” said Dean Elsdunne, adding that the “terrorist” was being treated in hospital.

In response to the two attacks, authorities have positioned officers from a counter-terrorism unit “permanently” in the Jerusalem area to “promptly respond to exceptional events whenever necessary”.

The man who attacked the synagogue on Friday was identified by local media as a Palestinian from East Jerusalem.

Speaking at the scene of the attack on Friday, Israeli police commissioner Kobi Shabtai called it “one of the worst attacks we have encountered in recent years”.

Israeli worshippers had gathered for prayers at the start of the Jewish Sabbath in a synagogue in the city’s Neve Yaakov neighbourhood and were leaving when the gunman opened fire, at about 20:15 local time (18:15 GMT).

Police said that officers then shot him dead.

Palestinian militant groups praised the attack, but did not say one of their members was responsible.

Tensions have been high since nine Palestinians – both militants and civilians – were killed during an Israeli military raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Thursday.

This was followed by rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, which Israel responded to with air strikes.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Image source, Reuters

The synagogue shooting happened on Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the six million Jews and other victims who were killed in the Holocaust by the Nazi regime in Germany.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack, saying that one of the victims was a Ukrainian woman.

“Terror must have no place in today’s world – neither in Israel nor Ukraine,” he said in a tweet.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly wrote on Twitter: “To attack worshippers at a synagogue on Holocaust Memorial Day, and during Shabbat, is horrific. We stand with our Israeli friends.”

President Joe Biden talked to Mr Netanyahu and offered all “appropriate means of support”, the White House said.

Shortly after the incident, Mr Netanyahu visited the site, as did the controversial far-right National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir.

A spokesperson for the Israeli military said on Saturday that they were boosting their forces in the occupied West Bank.

Mr Ben-Gvir promised to bring safety back to Israel’s streets but there is rising anger that he has not yet done so, says the BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem.

Israeli emergency service personnel close-off the site of a reported attack at a synagogue

Image source, Getty Images

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply worried about the current escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory”, a spokesperson said.

“This is the moment to exercise utmost restraint,” said Stephane Dujarric.

On Saturday the European Union expressed alarm at heightened tensions and urged Israel to only use lethal force as a last resort.

“The European Union fully recognises Israel’s legitimate security concerns – as evidenced by the latest terrorist attacks – but it has to be stressed that lethal force must only be used as a last resort when it is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” said the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell.

Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war and considers the entire city its capital, though this is not recognised by the vast majority of the international community.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of a hoped-for independent state.

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