JERUSALEM: Two Palestinian Hamas attackers opened fire at a bus stop during the morning rush hour on Thursday at the entrance to Jerusalem, killing at least three people and wounding eight others, Israeli authorities said.
“The terrorists arrived at the scene by car in the morning, armed with an M-16 rifle and a handgun,” police said. “The terrorists began shooting at civilians before subsequently being killed at the scene.”
The shooters came from East Jerusalem and were stopped by off-duty soldiers and another civilian who was nearby, police said.
Israel’s Shin Bet security agency identified them as 30 and 38-year-old brothers who were affiliated with the Islamist group Hamas, which runs Gaza. Both had previously been jailed in Israel.
Hamas later confirmed that the two men were its members.
“The operation came as a natural response to unprecedented crimes conducted by the occupation,” it said in a statement, citing Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Security camera footage obtained by Reuters showed the moments of the attack. A white car is seen stopped beside a crowded bus stop. Two men then step out, guns drawn, and run at the crowd as people scatter. Shortly afterwards the Palestinian attackers are gunned down.
“This attack is further proof for our commitment to continue fighting with strength and determination against the murderous terrorism that threatens our citizens,” Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, wrote on social media platform X.
A large number of first responders and security forces converged on the area that was crowded with morning commuters.
“This event proves again how we must not show weakness, that we must speak to Hamas only through the (rifle) scopes, only through the war,” said hard-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the site of the attack.
He added that Israel would continue its policy of easing regulations for issuing gun licenses to private citizens.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was visiting Tel Aviv, said Thursday’s shooting was a reminder “of the threat from terrorism that Israel and Israelis face every single day ... My heart goes out to the victims of this attack.”
Separately, in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said two soldiers were injured in a car ramming attack at a checkpoint. Troops at the scene “shot and neutralized the assailant,” it said. There was no immediate Palestinian comment.
The violence came as Israel and Hamas struck a last-minute agreement on Thursday to extend their six-day cease-fire in Gaza by one more day to allow negotiators to keep working on deals to swap hostages held in the coastal enclave for Palestinian prisoners.