Jerusalem synagogue attacked as violence escalates in Israeli-occupied West Bank : NPR

A gunman killed at least 7 people gathering for the Sabbath in a Jerusalem synagogue. It comes as violence escalates with Israeli forces carrying out a campaign of raids in the occupied West Bank


Israel says a Palestinian gunman killed at least seven people outside a synagogue in Jerusalem as worshipers marked Shabbat, one of the most serious attacks on Israelis in years. This comes as the violence escalates rapidly. Yesterday Israeli troops carried out the deadliest raid in the occupied West Bank in years, killing several militants and a woman.

NPR’s Daniel Estrin joins us from Tel Aviv. And, Daniel, what else can you tell us about the shooting in Jerusalem tonight?

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Well, Israeli police say it was a 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem who came to an Israeli settlement neighborhood of Jerusalem and opened fire on people outside a synagogue . Israeli media say they had gathered there after Shabbat prayers and passers-by were also shot dead. The shooter then fled. The police apprehended him. There was a shootout and he was killed. And at least three others were injured, including a 15-year-old boy in stable condition.

SHAPIRO: What have Israeli officials said about this?

ESTRIN: Well, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government decided to take immediate action. He didn’t specify what, but he said something remarkable. He said, Israelis, don’t make the law in your hands. We have the army and the police for that. It came just after his far-right security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, visited the scene of the shooting. Apparently, the Israelis who were gathered there were chanting, death to terrorists, and shouting at him that this had happened on his watch. And he would have said, yes, more Israelis should have guns.

Remember; This comes just weeks after Israel’s right-wing government took office. This is a government that takes a tougher line against the Palestinians. And as with the Palestinians, there were celebrations in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank to celebrate the attack tonight, including in Jenin, where we saw a deadly Israeli raid yesterday.

SHAPIRO: Yeah. You mentioned that deadly Israeli raid yesterday. Are there concerns that this could be part of a growing spiral of violence?

ESTRIN: It’s the fear, that it continues to skyrocket. Yesterday’s attack is the deadliest attack Israeli troops have carried out in the West Bank in years. Today was the deadliest attack the Israelis have faced in many years. And, you know, this comes after about 10 months of Israeli campaigning in the West Bank, with Israeli troops going after Palestinian suspects. This year, at least 30 Palestinians have been killed. So, yes, a violent spiral is to be feared here.

SHAPIRO: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to visit the Middle East this weekend. The trip has been in the works for a while. Can he do something to try to calm things down?

ESTRIN: You know, Ari, it’s really not clear if he can hold back the Israeli and Palestinian leadership right now and calm things down. The White House has condemned the Jerusalem attack, but Palestinian leaders have already said they are ending their cooperation with Israeli security officials after yesterday’s raid and killings in Jenin. And Blinken will try to maintain that security cooperation, but Blinken has a lot to do. He has a lot of long-term concerns with the new Israeli government, which wants to expand settlements in the West Bank, a lot of protests in Israel against plans to weaken the justice system. So it’s a very chaotic time as Blinken arrives.

SHAPIRO: Daniel Estrin of NPR in Tel Aviv. Thanks.

ESTRIN: You’re welcome.

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