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JERUSALEM: A gunman killed seven people at an east Jerusalem synagogue on Friday (Jan 27), Israeli police said, in a dramatic escalation of violence that followed a deadly raid in the West Bank a day earlier.
 
The shooting in the Neve Yaakov neighbourhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem came even as international calls for calm mounted after Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip traded missile fire earlier Friday.
 
“At around 8:30pm (1830 GMT), a terrorist arrived at a synagogue in the Neve Yaakov boulevard in Jerusalem and proceeded to shoot at a number of people in the area,” a police statement said, adding that the shooter was “neutralised”.
 
A police spokesman told AFP seven people had been killed.
 
The Magen David Adom emergency response service reported a total of 10 gunshot victims, including a 70-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy.
 
“I heard a lot of bullets,” Matanel Almalem, an 18-year-old student who lives near the synagogue, told AFP.
 
Israel’s extreme-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir attended the scene shortly after, an AFP photographer reported. Police were dismantling a white vehicle believed to have belonged to the shooter.
 
The United States condemned the “absolutely horrific” attack.
 
“Our commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad, and we are in direct touch with our Israeli partners,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.
 
Just hours earlier, Washington had urged “de-escalation” over the West Bank violence and Gaza rocket fire.

JENIN RAID

Nine people had been killed Thursday in what Israel described as a “counter-terrorism” operation in the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp.
 
It was one of the deadliest Israeli army raids in the occupied West Bank since the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, of 2000 to 2005.
 
Israel said Islamic Jihad operatives were the target.
 
Islamic Jihad and Hamas Islamists who control Gaza vowed to retaliate, later firing several rockets at Israeli territory.
 
Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defences. The military responded with strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza.
 
There were no injuries reported on either side, but Gaza’s armed groups have vowed further action.
 
The United Nations human rights office had called earlier for an end to the “endless cycle of violence” in the West Bank, saying on Twitter that it “must end”.