World leaders urge restraint as violence escalates in Jerusalem

Published January 29, 2023
Israeli security forces rush to Jerusalem’s predominantly Arab neighbourhood of Silwan, where an assailant reportedly shot and wounded two people on Saturday, hours after a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside a synagogue in one of the deadliest such attacks in years.—AFP
Israeli security forces rush to Jerusalem’s predominantly Arab neighbourhood of Silwan, where an assailant reportedly shot and wounded two people on Saturday, hours after a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside a synagogue in one of the deadliest such attacks in years.—AFP

JERUSALEM: Two Israelis, a father and son, were shot and wounded in east Jerusalem on Saturday, hours after a gunman killed seven people outside a synagogue, raising fears of escalation despite international calls for calm.

The Saturday morning gun attack took place in Silwan, just outside the walled Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Tensions have been rising across the region a day after one of the deadliest army raids in the occupied West Bank in two decades, followed by rocket fire in the Gaza Strip, prompting retaliatory Israeli air strikes.

An Israeli father, 47, and his 23-year-old army officer son sustained gunshot wounds to their upper bodies and were rushed to hospital, along with the attacker — said to be a 13-year-old Palestinian boy — who was shot and injured at the scene, police and medics said.

Separately, police identified the gunman from the earlier attack on a synagogue as a 21-year-old resident of the area occupied by Israel after the 1967 war, but there has been no indication that he had prior involvement in any militant activity or was a member of an established Palestinian group. He was killed by police following a brief chase after the shooting.

Man, son shot and wounded in attack; police ‘neutralise’ 13-year-old suspect, round up dozens of Palestinians

The escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied territories since the recent Israeli raid on the refugee camp drew calls for restraint from world leaders.

In a statement, police said they had arrested “42 people for questioning” overnight, “some of them members of the terrorist’s family”. Others detained inclu­ded residents of the gunman’s neighbourhood, police said.

World reaction

Several Arab governments that have ties with Israel including Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have condemned the synagogue attack.

But the Palestinian Authority led by president Mahmud Abbas has not, with his office insisting Israel was “fully responsible for the dangerous escalation”.

Palestinian leaders are set to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will visit the region next week.

Blinken will also hold talks with Netanyahu, the veteran leader’s first high-level meeting with a US official since returning to power last month as head of the most right-wing government in Israeli history.

US President Joe Biden also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemning what he called a “horrific terror attack” outside the synagogue. “The president made clear that this was an attack against the civilised world,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

Riyadh’s warning

Saudi Arabia has warned of the situation between Palestinians and Israelis escalating further after the synagogue attack in Jerusalem, the kingdom’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.

“The kingdom condemns targeting civilians, stressing the necessity of stopping the escalation, reviving the peace process and ending the occupation,” the ministry added in a statement.

Russia’s foreign ministry called for “maximum restraint” following violence in Israel and the West Bank that marked another dramatic escalation in the conflict.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2023

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