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• Student killed by gunman near Barkan industrial zone • Palestinian claims responsibility; Israel says move ‘cynical provocations’
Gunman from Gaza shoots man as dawn prayers break
An Israeli man was shot dead by a gunman from the Gaza Strip in Jerusalem on Wednesday, an attack the Israeli prime minister said was part of “cynical provocations”.
The shooting took place near the Barkan industrial zone in southern Jerusalem during the Jewish Sabbath, when crowds of people gather to pray and celebrate the day.
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Shots rang out, a stampede ensued and the dead man, identified as Mohammed Abu Khedair, 20, was taken to hospital, where he died soon after.
“We were worshipping in front of the synagogue … There were several warnings, saying there was shooting coming from behind us,” a witness, Faisal Abu Shamayya, told Israel’s Channel Ten.
“The screams were coming from the opposite side of the street,” he said.
An Israeli security source told Reuters that Palestinian gunmen shot at Israeli security forces searching the area but were tracked down and killed by special forces.
Witnesses said the shooter was killed by fire from Israeli security forces.
A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said “a heroic operation was launched with the aim of avenging the killing of Abu Khattab and attacking Zionist soldiers in the path of the Gaza security fence”.
According to the local police chief, Roni Alsheikh, the scene was a nearby parking lot, next to a tunnel running under the Israeli border.
Palestinians close to the scene of the shooting held up pictures of Abu Khedair and chanted slogans, while the police put up a wooden sign asking that all vehicles remain on the road.
During the operation, a body was found on the Gaza border fence, Alsheikh said.
Israeli police said witnesses reported seeing a white car swerve into the crowd that was gathered, and that the vehicle then sped off. Police seized a nearby car, and its papers had the vehicle number plate written in Hebrew.
Hundreds of people took to the streets to protest against the killing. The protesters blocked a main road and clashed with police who responded with teargas and stun grenades.
Israeli security forces search the scene of the shooting in Jerusalem. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images
Israel refrained from a similar ambush in April during a prayer period at the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews. That shooting, claimed by Hamas, was part of a surge in violence at the time.
A month earlier, three Israeli Arab schoolchildren were shot dead in their car by gunmen in Israel.
Those two incidents followed a drive-by shooting on 2 March that killed three Israeli settlers in an attack that Israeli police and soldiers blamed on the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Israel accused Hamas of involvement in that attack, while the Palestinian group had denied any involvement.
Local residents said Abu Khedair was the second of four children, and the son of the Palestinian poet, Mukhtar Abu Khedair.
Kurdish militants have seized at least a dozen Israeli soldiers and settlers in Turkey, Egypt and Syria since the end of 2015.
They are considered terrorists by Israel and other countries, but not by Turkey and other countries.