A Palestinian motorist has launched a shooting spree near the Israeli police headquarters in Jerusalem, wounding eight people, two of them seriously, before being shot dead, officials said.
The attacker sped towards a busy stop of the city’s light rail system and opened fire, seriously wounding a woman waiting there, according to police spokeswoman Luba Samri. He then continued driving and shot another woman who was seated in her car before speeding off towards an Arab neighbourhood in east Jerusalem.
Ms 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 shoot-out.
A separate police force ultimately shot and killed the attacker, Ms Samri said. She identified him as a 39-year-old man from the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan.
Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency medical service said it was treating eight wounded people, of whom two were in a critical condition. Police said they have closed down the area of the shooting. Part of the light rail service was also halted.
The attack was an unusual one in the year-long spate of Palestinian assaults since most have been stabbings rather than shootings.
The attacks have killed 34 Israelis and two visiting Americans over the past year. About 219 Palestinians have been killed during that period, with Israel saying the vast majority of them are attackers.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the potential for violence could rise as the Jewish high holidays approach again and Israel has beefed up its security presence as a result. There has been a recent surge in Palestinian attacks that shattered weeks of relative calm and raised fears of a return to the near-daily attacks often seen throughout the wave.
Internal security minister Gilad Erdan said the quick response of security forces on the scene prevented a deadlier result.
Israel has blamed the violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders compounded on social media sites. The Palestinians say it is rooted in nearly 50 years of military occupation and dwindling hopes for independence.
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Gaza’s Islamic Hamas leaders, welcomed the attack in a statement saying it was “a natural response”.