A 39-year-old Palestinian killed a pedestrian and a police officer in Jerusalem before being shot dead by police, medical and law enforcement officials said.
Police spokeswoman, Luba Samri, said the attacker, identified as Misbah Abu Sbeih, sped toward a busy stop of the city’s light rail service and opened fire, seriously wounding a woman waiting for a train.
He then continued driving and shot another woman who was seated in her car before speeding off toward an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
Samri said police officers on motorcycles chased the assailant, who eventually stepped out of his vehicle and opened fire at them. A police officer was critically wounded in the shootout.
Police identified the assailant as a 39-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem. A spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service said the attacker had been ordered by a court to start a four-month jail sentence next week after being convicted of assaulting a police officer.
A number of local journalists reported that Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, welcomed the attack as a “heroic act” and “natural response” to Israeli oppression.
Hamas praises Jerusalem drive-by shooting by Palestinian gunman who killed 2, wounded others https://t.co/VCs9xKhG8L
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) October 9, 2016
In a statement, the Hamas movement in the occupied West Bank highlighted that Abu Sbeih carried out the shooting attack a day after the anniversary of Al-Aqsa Mosque massacre in 1990 during the third year of the First Intifada, which resulted in the death of over 20 Palestinians, with more than 150 injured.
Hamas hails Jerusalem shooting attack as “brave” – Palestinian Information Center https://t.co/p20y8ps0j7
— Ariyana Love (@AmbassadorOPTV) October 9, 2016
“This is evidence that the Palestinian people will never forget or ignore any crime committed against the holy city,” the statement said.
Abu Sbeih told Ma’an a day prior to carrying out the shooting that he had decided to turn himself in to Israeli authorities to face charges over allegedly assaulting an Israeli police officer at the mosque in 2013.
Abu Sbeih had formerly been imprisoned by Israel over charges of “incitement” for Facebook posts.
In the past year at least 220 Palestinians have died in violent incidents in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian leaders say assailants are acting out of desperation over the collapse in 2014 of peace talks and the expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied land that Palestinians seek for an independent state.
(Independent, MEMO, MA’AN, PC)