On Friday evening, a tragic attack occurred in East Jerusalem at a synagogue, resulting in the death of seven people and three more injured. This event has been described as one of the worst attacks in recent years by Israeli police commissioner Kobi Shabtai. Following this attack, Israeli police have arrested 42 people in connection with the incident.
The following day, a separate attack occurred outside the Old City, injuring two people, a father and son. It was revealed that the assailant was a 13-year-old boy who was ‘neutralised’ but no further details were given. In response to the attacks, Israeli military have increased their presence in the occupied West Bank, deploying officers from a counter-terrorism unit in the Jerusalem area.
Palestinian militant groups have praised the attack, but did not claim responsibility. Tensions in the region have been high since nine Palestinians, both militants and civilians, were killed during an Israeli military raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Thursday. This was followed by rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, which Israel responded to with air strikes.
The attack took place on Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the six million Jews and other victims who were killed in the Holocaust by the Nazi regime in Germany. In response, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly wrote on Twitter: “To attack worshippers at a synagogue on Holocaust Memorial Day, and during Shabbat, is horrific. We stand with our Israeli friends,” President Joe Biden also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and offered all “appropriate means of support”.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, expressed deep worries about the current escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory. He urged both sides to exercise utmost restraint.
Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war and considers the entire city its capital, though this is not recognised by the vast majority of the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of a hoped-for independent state.
As the tensions between Israel and Palestine continue to rise, the international community is watching closely and hopes that both sides can find a peaceful resolution.