Published By: Aashi Sadana
Last Updated: August 01, 2023, 22:19 IST
A Palestinian gunman opened fire in an Israeli settlement east of Jerusalem on Tuesday, wounding at least five people before being shot and killed, Israeli police said.
The shooting outside a shopping mall in the sprawling Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, in the occupied West Bank, was the latest in the most violent stretch of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the territory in nearly two decades.
An off-duty police officer in Maale Adumim heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene, where police said the Palestinian assailant turned his gun on him.
The officer opened fire in response, killing the Palestinian, who was dressed as a security guard in a neon vest.
The Islamic militant groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad praised the attack as “heroic” but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
In an audio clip purportedly recorded by the assailant and shared on social media, he vows to “die for the sake of Allah” and asks that his attack “not be claimed by any political faction.”
“This operation is a natural response to the storming of the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Islamic Jihad spokesman Tariq Salami said, referring to a visit to the sensitive Jerusalem holy site by hard-line Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and thousands of other religious Jews last week. The contested compound has long been a flashpoint for violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the assailant as 20-year-old Muhannad al-Mazraa from Azariya, a West Bank town just east of Jerusalem.
The attacker wounded at least five people, Israel’s rescue service said. The men, ranging in age from 14 to 40 years old, were fully conscious and in moderate to serious condition, it added.
Fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank intensified early last year when Israel launched near-nightly raids into Palestinian areas in the West Bank in response to a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
The violence has spiked this year, with more than 150 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since the start of 2023 in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting the raids and others not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.
At least 26 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that time.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – Associated Press)