The attack came a day after an Israeli military raid killed nine Palestinians in the West Bank. Palestinians in Gaza City and several locations across the West Bank celebrated the attack outside an east Jerusalem synagogue which killed seven people, including a 70-year-old woman.
The burst of violence also included a rocket barrage from Gaza and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes, posing an early challenge for Israel’s new government. The deadly attack targeting Israelis came a day after a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including an army raid in the occupied West Bank that killed nine people.
A Palestinian gunman opened fire outside a synagogue in Neve Yaakov, a settlement with a large ultra-Orthodox population. Police said the gunman, identified by Israeli police as a 21-year-old east Jerusalem resident, fled in a car after opening fire on civilians.
Police said they chased after the attacker and killed him in an exchange of fire. They also released a photo of the pistol it said was used by the attacker. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, a spokesperson for the ruling Hamas militant group in Gaza said the attack was “a revenge and natural response” to the deadly military raid Thursday.
The attack was the deadliest on Israelis since a 2008 shooting killed eight people in a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, according to country’s foreign ministry. It was the deadliest attack on Israelis in years and raised the likelihood of more bloodshed.
In Palestinian city of Ramallah, large crowds cheered and waved Palestinian flags, fired guns into the air, honked horns and distributed sweets. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had held a security assessment and decided on “immediate actions.”
Crowds outside the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where some of the wounded were treated, chanted “Death to Terrorists”. The attack escalated tensions that were already heightened following Thursday’s raid in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, where nine people, including at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman, were killed.