TEL AVIV — A Palestinian man opened fire on a group of Israelis near a holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, killing one and injuring four, according to Israeli security forces. Police said they shot the assailant to death within a minute of the attack, the second in the area in a week.
Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said the assailant, 42, was an Islamic preacher and member of Hamas’s political wing, who prayed on a daily basis at the flash-point site known by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Entrance to the Old City was closed immediately and the area was being investigated as a crime scene.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ordered increased security and continued high alert in the city “out of concern for copycat attacks.”
Official Hamas media identified the assailant, Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, as “the leader of the Hamas movement” in the Shuafat refugee camp.
Bar-Lev said the shooter’s wife had traveled overseas three days ago and that at least one of his four children also was abroad. He said the gun the attacker used had probably been smuggled. He also said footage showed that the assailant was wearing a long coat that was either a galabiya, a traditional gown worn in the Arab world or an outfit to impersonate the ultra-Orthodox worshipers who regularly come to the holy site.
The Israeli man who was killed, Eliyahu David Kaye, 26, had just recently immigrated to Israel from South Africa and had worked as a tour guide at the Western Wall. Hamas said the operation was designed to be a warning to Israel, which it said would “pay for the inequities” at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as in neighborhoods in East Jerusalem where Jewish settlers have for years been attempting to evict Palestinian residents.
Sunday afternoon, an 18-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank city of Jenin stabbed and wounded a 67-year-old Israeli man in Jaffa, Israel, police said. Police said they arrested the assailant in the incident and that findings from an initial interrogation indicate it was a terrorist attack.
On Friday, the day that the wife of the gunman in the Jerusalem attack was said to have left the country, a Facebook account that appeared to belong to him reshared a post from 2014 referring to the Koranic story of the prophet Muhammad’s pilgrimage to al-Aqsa Mosque, near the shooting location.
The mosque, located on an elevated esplanade on the eastern edge of the Old City, is considered the third-holiest place of worship in Islam after Mecca and Medina. The site is considered the most sacred in Judaism.
Thousands of Jewish worshipers have visited the Temple Mount in recent years, bolstered by increased support from conservative politicians within Israel’s ruling coalition. “Jews should be able to walk throughout the whole country, in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount, with confidence, without fear,” the firebrand Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who for years has called for increased Jewish access to the site, tweeted after the attack.
The shooting follows a attack last week by a 16-year-old Palestinian male who was killed at the scene by Israeli police. A fragile cease fire between Israel and Hamas was reached at the end of an 11-day conflict in May.
Hazem Balousha in Gaza City contributed to this report.