A Palestinian gunman opened fire in an Israeli settlement east of Jerusalem on Tuesday, wounding six people before being shot and killed, Israeli police said.
The shooting at a mall in the sprawling Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, in the occupied West Bank, was the latest in the most violent stretch of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the territory in nearly two decades.
Later on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said the Israeli military shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian who allegedly tried to stab soldiers in the southern West Bank, near the city of Hebron.
In the hilly settlement of Maale Adumim on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, an off-duty police officer heard the gunfire, rushed toward the sound and killed the assailant, police said. The attacker had shot diners outside a burger joint before running to the street, shooting and wounding more people near the shopping mall, authorities added.
When confronted, the assailant turned his gun on the off-duty Israeli officer and started to shoot, police said. The officer opened fire, killing the Palestinian, who was dressed as a security guard in a neon vest.
The Islamic militant groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad praised the attack as “heroic” but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
In an audio clip purportedly recorded by the assailant and shared on social media, he vows to “die for the sake of Allah” and asks that he “not be claimed by any political faction.”
“This operation is a natural response to the storming of the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Islamic Jihad spokesman Tariq Salami said, referring to a visit to the sensitive Jerusalem holy site by hard-line Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and thousands of other religious Jews last week. The contested compound has long been a flashpoint for violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the assailant as 20-year-old Muhannad al-Mazraa from Azariya, a West Bank town just east of Jerusalem.
The attacker wounded at least six people, Israel's rescue service said, including a 41-year-old man who was seriously hurt. The rest of the men, ranging in age from 14 to 37years old, were fully conscious and in moderate condition, it added.
“Some of the victims escaped and hid in shops in the mall,” said Israeli medic Miryam Sharvit. “A victim was in a restaurant with his wife and 5-year-old daughter when they suddenly heard gunfire.”
Surveillance video showed a middle-aged man wielding a chair chasing the gunman out of the burger restaurant.
Meanwhile, in the southern West Bank near the Palestinian town of As-Samou, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian teenager who allegedly tried to stab them at a bus stop. The army said that soldiers had been questioning the 15-year-old at a junction when he lunged at them with a knife. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the boy as Mohammed al-Zaarir.
Fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank intensified early last year when Israel launched near-nightly raids into Palestinian areas in the West Bank in response to a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
The violence has spiked this year, with more than 150 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since the start of 2023 in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting the raids and innocent bystanders have also been killed.
At least 26 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis so far this year.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.
DeBre reported from Ramallah, West Bank.