JERUSALEM: Two gunmen killed three people at a Jerusalem bus stop during morning rush hour on Thursday.
The attackers, identified by Israelis as Palestinians from East Jerusalem, were shot dead by off-duty soldiers and an armed civilian, police said. Eight people were also wounded in the shooting.
“The terrorists arrived at the scene by car in the morning, armed with an M-16 rifle and a handgun,” police said. “The terrorists began shooting at civilians before subsequently being killed at the scene.”
Camera footage showed a white car stopping beside the crowded bus stop. Two men then stepped out, guns drawn, and charged at the crowd as people scattered. Shortly afterwards the Palestinian attackers were themselves shot.
A large number of first-responders and Israeli soldiers converged on the area that was crowded with morning commuters. The victims were identified by Israeli media as a woman in her 20s, a woman in her 60s and a 74-year-old rabbi.
Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency identified the attackers as 30- and 38-year-old brothers who were affiliated with Hamas.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the Jerusalem attack, deeming it “heroic”.
“The operation came as a natural response to unprecedented crimes conducted by the Occupation (Israel),” it said in a statement, citing the military offensive in Gaza and the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Israel’s far-right minister for police, Itamar Ben-Gvir, told reporters at the site of the attack that it “proves again how we must not show weakness, that we must speak to Hamas only through the (rifle) scopes, only through the war”. He added that Israel would continue its policy of easing regulations for issuing gun licences to private citizens.
Blinken, on his third visit to the region since the Hamas raid of Oct 7, said Thursday’s shooting was a reminder “of the threat from terrorism that Israel and Israelis face every single day … My heart goes out to the victims of this attack”.
In the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said two soldiers were injured in a car-ramming attack at a checkpoint. Troops at the scene “shot and neutralised the assailant”, it said.
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2023