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A Hamas operative used a submachine gun to shoot one dead and injure up to four more in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday before being killed by Israeli police.
The attack took place near the entrance to the flashpoint Al-Asqa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. One civilian suffered serious wounds and two others - both Israeli police officers - suffered light injuries and were released from hospital a few hours later, paramedics said. Another Israeli man in his 30s had a critical head injury and later succumbed to his wounds in a Jerusalem hospital.
Police said that the attacker was a 42-year-old resident of East Jerusalem. Hamas later confirmed that he was a member of their militant group and identified him as Fadi Abu Shkhaidem. His attack, they hailed, was a “heroic operation”.
According to Israel’s Internal Security Minister, Omer Barlev, a Beretta M12 submachine gun was used in the fatal attack. The whole incident, he said, lasted no longer than 36 seconds. Abu Shkaidem moved through the alleyways leading to the Chain Gate entrance to the Temple Mount and “fired quite a bit” at the three Israeli men walking through the area.
Two female police officers quickly arrived at the scene and opened fire on the attacker, shooting him dead at the scene.
The slain Israeli civilian was the first to be killed by Palestinian violence since the last round of fighting in May.
“The terrorist was a member of Hamas’s political branch who regularly prayed in the Old City. His wife fled abroad three days ago, and he used standard weapons that are not commonly available in Israel,” Mr Barlev reportedly said, indicating that the attack was planned.
The UK on Friday deemed Hamas a terrorist organisation, claiming that it is impossible to differentiate between its political and military wings anymore.
"On a morning like this one can draw support from the [British] decision to delineate Hamas - including what is called its political wing - as a terrorist organisation," Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett told his cabinet on Sunday.
This is the second attack in Jerusalem’s Old City in four days. On Wednesday a 16-year-old Palestinian teenager was fatally shot after stabbing two Israeli border police.
According to Wafa, the official news site of the Palestinian Authority, police raided Rashidiya secondary school in the Old City where the Abu Shkaidem was reportedly working as a teacher.
Israeli forces closed the entrances to the Old City and set up checkpoints around the area.
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