Shooting rampage puts Israel on holiday alert


JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities have arrested dozens of Palestinians after a deadly shooting rampage in Jerusalem raised fears of a surge in violence during this week’s Yom Kippur holiday, police said on Monday.

Sunday’s attack saw a 39-year-old Palestinian open fire on civilians from a car and at police, killing a police officer and a 60-year-old Israeli woman.

The attacker, Misbah Abu Sbeih – who was reportedly scheduled to begin a prison term on the same day – was killed by police after he fled into an east Jerusalem neighborhood.

The shooting came at a time of increased Jewish visitors to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem for the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, which was last week, and Yom Kippur, which begins Tuesday evening.

The arrests included 31 Palestinians seeking to participate in celebrations in memory of the assailant as well as members of his family in east Jerusalem, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told army radio.

Some 15 other Palestinians were arrested for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces in east Jerusalem, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

The military said it has also made preparations to demolish the home of the attacker, a practice Israel often employs in a bid to deter others from violence.

In addition, police are increasing deployments throughout Israel and Jerusalem for the holidays, with more than 3,000 to be deployed to the city.

Israelis have been concerned that the attack may inspire copycats. The use of a sophisticated rifle, reportedly an M-16, also led to worries as it was a departure from the more typical use of knives or homemade guns.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, welcomed the attack and said the assailant was a member, but did not claim responsibility.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech on Monday that “all citizens must be alert”.

“We know that this is a time when those who fan the flames of terrorism and the inciters try to ignite a conflagration,” he said.



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