A shooting attack at a Jerusalem synagogue on Saturday left at least seven dead, including four rabbis and a police officer, Israeli police said. The attack took place during morning prayers in the ultra-Orthodox Netanya synagogue, witnesses said. It is the latest of several attacks to hit Israel in recent weeks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the terror threats faced by Israelis were “unprecedented”. Israel has been under a heightened security alert since early March, when a Palestinian teenager killed two Israeli students in an suburban Tel Aviv plaza.
At least seven dead in Jerusalem synagogue attack
Police in Jerusalem say at least seven people have been killed and dozens more injured in a shooting attack at a synagogue. The assailant is still on the loose. Investigators are working to determine who carried out the attack and what motives may have driven them.
Eyewitnesses say they heard several bursts of gunfire before the assailants fled the scene. Israeli security forces responded with a series of airstrikes on suspected militants’ locations in Gaza, according to local reports.
This is the latest attack targeting Jews in Jerusalem. In March, a Palestinian man shot and killed two Israelis, one of them an eight-month pregnant woman, at a Jewish center in suburban Tel Aviv.
Israeli police say they have arrested a suspect
Israeli police have arrested a suspect in connection to the deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue on Saturday that killed seven people. Yishai Schlissel, 35, was apprehended by members of the Israel Defense Forces outside of Jerusalem, according to Israeli police. Schlissel is alleged to have entered the synagogue and started stabbing people before being shot and wounded by security personnel. Five people were killed in the attack and two more were wounded.
The attack is being treated as a terrorist incident
Mourners attend the funeral of Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, one of the seven people killed in a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue on Saturday. Israeli police say they are treating the incident as a terrorist act.
A gunman armed with an assault rifle entered the synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood during morning prayers and opened fire, killing at least six people and injuring several more before fleeing the scene. The rabbi who was shot multiple times during the attack, Nehemia Lavi, later died from his injuries.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “this is a savage murder of innocent Jews who were performing their religious duties.” He added that “Israel will respond with strength and determination to this brutal act.”
The attack comes only one day after an Egyptian man drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, leaving 12 people dead and 48 injured. Early investigations suggest that both incidents may be linked; German officials have said they are looking into whether there is any link between the two attacks.
Jerusalem has seen a rise in extremist attacks in recent years
Since October 2015, there has been a significant increase in extremist attacks in Jerusalem. On October 12, 2015, a Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis before being shot and killed by police. In response to the attack, a group of Jewish extremists traveled to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and committed a series of arson attacks against Muslim holy sites. This escalated into an all out conflict between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) in early July 2016. Since then, extremist attacks have occurred at almost weekly intervals, with over 20 victims and 70 injured reported since July 2016. On July 14th, a Palestinian terrorist opened fire on patrons at the Sarona Market food center in central Jerusalem; killing four people and wounding 11 others before fleeing the scene. The perpetrator was later shot dead by Israeli police officers. These are just a few examples of the increasing number of extremist attacks taking place across Jerusalem.
In light of these events, many residents feel insecure and vulnerable in their own city. The uptick in extremism is causing widespread social unrest and is having a negative impact on daily life for both Israelis and Palestinians living in Jerusalem. Many are calling for increased security measures to be put into place in order to protect citizens from harm.