A terrorist entered a religious school in Jerusalem shortly after nightfall Thursday and opened fire with an automatic weapon, killing eight people before being shot dead.
The terrorist, identified as an East Jerusalem Arab reportedly walked into a dining room where about 80 students were eating and began spraying bullets from an automatic weapon he carried in his bag.
At least nine people were reportedly wounded, two severely, according to Asaf Shariv, Israel’s consul general in New York. Most of the seminary students reportedly ranged in age from 18 to 30.
“They try all the time [to carry out terrorist attacks],” Shariv said. “The fact that there has not been an attack in Jerusalem in quite some time has nothing to do with their motivation. Rather it is because of the work of our security forces in stopping them in Jerusalem and all around the West Bank. We’ve had a lot of success. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case tonight.”
Three persons were reported to have been moderately wounded. Among the injured was a 15-year-old boy who suffered chest wounds. Authorities were delayed in treating the injured by police who sealed off the campus to search it and nearby apartments to make sure there were no other gunmen.
One student was quoted as saying he saw a gunman fire “500 to 600 bullets” during a 10-minute shooting spree.
The terror attack was the first in the nation’s capital in more than a year. An organization called Galilee Freedom Battalions – the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television. Mughniyeh was a long sought-after terror leader who was killed in a car bombing last month in Damascus. Israel denied any role in the assassination.
An Israel Defense Forces paratrooper who had his weapon with him, along with two police detectives who responded to the shooting, shot and killed the terrorist in a gun battle.
About 50 ambulances from throughout the city raced to the scene of the attack, the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva near the central bus station at the entrance to Jerusalem in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood. The injured were taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem and to Sha’arei Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski told Israel’s Channel 2, “It’s very sad tonight in Jerusalem – many people were killed in the heart of Jerusalem.”
As news of the shooting spread, residents in Gaza City rushed into the streets in celebration. And the terrorist organization Hamas, which controls Gaza and calls for the destruction of Israel, issued a statement hailing the attack.
“We bless the operation,” it said. “It will not be the last.”
The attack came following one of the bloodiest Israeli campaigns in Gaza that killed more than 100 Palestinians in the last week. It was in response to a barrage of Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli cities that killed a student in the Israeli community of Sderot.
For further updates, check www.haaretz.com;
www.ynetnews.com; and www.jpost.com.