Sun, 10 Dec 2023

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JERUSALEM, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Israel reinforced its security forces in East Jerusalem on Sunday amid rising tensions in the flashpoint city following a shooting attack that killed one civilian and injured four.

At about 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT), the attacker, identified by Palestinian media as Fadi Abu Shkhaidem, opened fire at civilians outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a contested site holy to both Muslims and Jews.

One person was critically injured in the shooting and died hours later in hospital, while four more sustained various degrees of injuries, according to statements from the Israeli government and medical facilities.

Israeli state-owned Kan news TV identified the victim as Eliyahu Kay, 26, from Modiin, a city west of Jerusalem. He recently migrated from South Africa to Israel and was employed at the Western Wall, known in Islam as the Buraq Wall, as a tourist guide.

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The assailant was shot and killed by the police at the scene, the police said in a statement, adding two of the four injured were police officers who were wounded by shrapnel.

Israeli Minister of Public Security Omer Barlev described the shooter as a member of Hamas and from the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem. During a tour at the scene, Barlev told journalists that the attacker used a submachine gun.

According to Barlev, the assailant arrived at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayers every day. "Today he arrived with a weapon and decided to shoot, unfortunately," he said.

The attacker Abu Shkhaidem, 42, was a teacher at a religious high school in Jerusalem, according to Israeli media.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but Hamas praised it and confirmed that Abu Shkhaidem was its member.

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Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he ordered security forces to be on alert to prevent possible "copycat" attacks that might follow Sunday's attack.

"I have directed the security forces to prepare accordingly and be alert, also over concern for copycat attacks," he said. "We need to be on heightened alert and prevent future attacks."

It was the second attack in East Jerusalem within a week. On Wednesday, a Palestinian teenager was shot dead after he stabbed two police officers, the police said.

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Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are claimed by the Palestinians, in the 1967 Middle East war, and has controlled them ever since. The Palestinians have been seeking to establish an independent state on these territories together with the enclave Gaza Strip.

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