Two consecutive shootings that left 7 people dead in Jerusalem increased Israeli-Palestinian tensions, forcing many countries to call on Tel Aviv to refrain.
Tensions escalated in Jerusalem after two shootings took place in a row in the area. The first shooting occurred on the night of January 27, when a 21-year-old Palestinian suspect opened fire on a synagogue in the Neve Yaakov settlement of Jerusalem, killing at least seven people and injuring three.
The attack occurred during a night vigil and coincided with a day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust during World War II. It was one of the deadliest attacks on Israelis in recent years, threatening to spark a conflict between the country and the Palestinians.
The suspect continued to open fire on passersby during his escape, before being shot down by Israeli security forces.
Israeli security forces arrested at least 42 people in connection with the shooting. Prime Minister Benjamin Neytayahu has called on Israelis not to “claim for justice” by taking extreme actions against Arabs.
Hours later, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy opened fire again in the Silwan neighborhood, just outside the Israeli-held area of East Jerusalem, injuring two people.
The shootings occurred in the midst of a serious escalation of Palestinian-Israeli tensions as the Israeli military launched an operation to hunt down “terrorists” in the West Bank and retaliated against Palestinian militias in the Gaza Strip.
The day before the Neve Yaakov shooting, the Israeli army launched a raid at the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank region, killing nine people. Observers described it as one of the largest “anti-terrorist” operations in the region since the Intifada, the Palestinian movement against Israeli forces occupying the West Bank and Gaza Strip. in the years 2000-2005.
Kobi Shabtai, Israel’s police chief, called the shooting in the Jerusalem chapel “one of the most horrifying attacks Israel has seen in recent years”.
The leaders of several Arab countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel, including Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), condemned the shooting. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was shocked by the attacks in Jerusalem and confirmed Germany would stand with Israel.
Meanwhile, some world leaders have expressed concern that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may flare up again because of the current wave of violence.
French President Emmanuel Macron called on all sides to exercise restraint and ensure “at all costs to prevent the spiral of violence from spiraling out of control”. A State Department spokesman said Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his trip to the region next week will discuss with all sides to find ways to de-escalate tensions.
Saudi Arabia warns Palestinian-Israeli tensions on the brink of dangerous escalation of violence. The Russian Foreign Ministry also called on Israel and Palestinian forces to exercise “maximum restraint” to avoid further escalation. Moscow also said that the parties need to quickly restart the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, and oppose any unilateral actions.
Jesep Borrell, the EU’s highest diplomat, called on the Israeli government to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force against the Palestinians.
He said the EU strongly condemns the shootings in Jerusalem, calling it “an insane act of violence and hostility”, but noted that Israeli forces were abusing force during their raids this month. At least 30 Palestinians were killed earlier this year. Since 2022, Israeli operations in the West Bank have killed more than 150 people, including 30 children.
“The EU acknowledges Israel’s legitimate security concerns, but also emphasizes that lethal force must be seen as a last resort, avoiding this option as much as possible in order to save lives,” he said.
Name (Theo AFP, Reuters, Washington Post)