A Palestinian gunman opened fire outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem, killing seven people and injuring three others on Friday night.
The attack, which occurred during the observance of the Jewish Sabbath, has been deemed the deadliest attack on Israelis in years and has raised concerns of potential further bloodshed.
The shooting has also posed an early challenge for Israel’s new right-wing government, which is dominated by ultranationalists who have advocated for a hard line against Palestinian violence.
Israel’s police chief Kobi Shabtai called the shooting “one of the worst attacks we have encountered in recent years.” It also fell on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“As a result of the terror attack, seven civilians were pronounced dead, and three additional civilians were injured,” police said.
In response to the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security assessment and announced immediate actions. He plans to convene his Security Cabinet on Saturday night to discuss further response.
Though he did not elaborate on what these actions may be, he emphasized that Israel would act with “determination and composure.” He also called on the public not to take matters into their own hands.
The United States issued a statement condemning the attack and expressing condolences for the loss of life. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that the U.S. would extend full support to the government and people of Israel.
Israeli police identified the attacker as a 21-year-old East Jerusalem resident who appeared to have acted alone. The police chief promised an “aggressive and significant” effort to track down anyone who may have assisted the shooter.
The attack has prompted Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to instruct security officials to assist police and strengthen defenses near Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The attack also led to celebrations in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where people fired guns into the air, honked horns, and distributed sweets.
This has escalated tensions that were already heightened following a military raid in the West Bank town of Jenin on Thursday, which resulted in the deaths of nine people, including at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman. The raid was the deadliest in the West Bank in two decades.
The attack threatens to trigger a tough response from Israel and has cast a shadow over U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blicken’s visit to the region.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES