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A Palestinian gunman opened fire in east Jerusalem on Saturday, wounding at least two people, less than a day after another assailant killed seven outside a synagogue in the deadliest attack in the city since 2008.
The shooting in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem, near the historic Old City, wounded at least two men, aged 23 and 47, in their upper bodies, paramedics said. They were fully conscious and in moderate to serious condition in the hospital, the medics added.
Police shot the attacker, but there was no immediate word on his condition. Authorities taped off the scene of the attack and emergency vehicles and security forces swarmed the area as helicopters whirled overhead.
Saturday’s events raised the possibility of even greater conflagration in one of the bloodiest months in Israel and the occupied West Bank in several years. On Friday, a Palestinian gunman killed at least seven people in a Jewish settlement with a large ultra-Orthodox population in east Jerusalem, including a 70-year-old woman.
The events pose pivotal test for Israel’s new far-right government. Its firebrand minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has presented himself as an enforcer of law and order and grabbed headlines for his promises to take even stronger action against the Palestinians.
Israeli police had launched a security crackdown early on Saturday following the attack near the synagogue.
Security forces fanned out into the gunman’s neighborhood of At-Tur in east Jerusalem and arrested 42 family members, neighbors and others close to him for questioning. Police Chief Kobi Shabtai beefed up security forces and instructed police to work 12-hour shifts, the statements said, urging the public to call a hotline if they see anything suspicious.
The earlier Friday attack, which occurred as residents were observing the Jewish sabbath, came a day after an Israeli military raid killed nine Palestinians in the West Bank. Friday’s shooting set off celebrations in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where people fired guns into the air, honked horns and distributed sweets.
The burst of violence also included a rocket barrage from Gaza and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes and also cast a cloud over a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had held a security assessment and decided on “immediate actions.” He said he would convene his Security Cabinet on Saturday night, after the end of the sabbath, to discuss a further response.