A militant of the Palestinian Hamas movement opened fire Sunday in Jerusalem’s Old City, killing one person and wounding three before he was shot dead, Israeli officials, police and medics said.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ordered security to be boosted and called for people to be on “heightened alert” over the risk of further attacks.
The wounded, who included two civilians and two police officers, were rushed to Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital. One of them, a man in his 30s, died of his injuries, medical sources said without giving further details.
“This morning there was a serious shooting attack in the Old City of Jerusalem,” Bennett said in a statement. “At the moment we have one dead and three wounded. Two policewomen and one policeman quickly neutralized the terrorist.”
Police said the attacker had fired a “Carlo-type weapon”, a type of submachine gun.
The Old City is in the Israeli-annexed eastern part of Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state.
Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move not recognized by most of the international community.
After the shooting, dozens of Israeli police officers deployed on the narrow streets of the historic walled city, as workers hosed down large pools of blood from the cobblestones, said an AFP reporter.
The body of the attacker, who died at scene, was carried away on a stretcher.
– ‘Premeditated’ attack –
Israel’s Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said the attacker was a Palestinian living in the Shuafat neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
“He was a member of Hamas, the political branch not the armed wing,” Bar-Lev told Israel’s Kan television channel, saying he had been wearing long robes to hide his weapon.
“It appears he was wearing a large galabiya (robe) or that he had disguised himself as an Orthodox Jew,” Bar-Lev said, adding the gunman’s wife had traveled abroad three days ago, while his son was also out of the country.
“It seems that this attack is premeditated,” Bar-Lev said.
Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, congratulated the gunman and hailed the “continuation” of the fight to “liberate” Jerusalem, but without specifically claiming the attack.
It comes six months to the day since the end of an 11-day war in Gaza with Israel in May.
– ‘Terror’ listing –
On Friday, Britain said it intended to follow the United States and European Union in placing an outright ban on Hamas as a terror group, saying it was not possible to distinguish between the Islamists’ political and military wing.
Attacks targeting Israeli security forces are common in the Old City as well as in the occupied West Bank.
They are often carried out by individual young Palestinian men in so-called lone-wolf attacks.
On Wednesday, Israeli security forces shot dead a 16-year-old assailant who stabbed and wounded two police officers in the Old City.
“This is the second recent terrorist attack in Jerusalem,” Bennett said, adding he had ordered the security forces to “be alert… over concern for copycat attacks.”
The Jewish Hanukkah holidays begin on November 28.
Some 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, alongside 300,000 Palestinians.
There has also been regular unrest in the occupied West Bank. A 26-year-old Palestinian was killed on Tuesday during dawn clashes with Israeli troops on the road into the northern town of Tubas.
Clashes routinely break out in the West Bank when Israeli forces enter Palestinian-administered towns to make arrests or after demonstrations.
Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, around 475,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank that are regarded as illegal under international law alongside more than 2.8 million Palestinians.