A Palestinian terrorist infiltrated a religious school in Jerusalem at about 9 p.m. Thursday (March 6) and opened fire throughout the complex, shooting dead at least eight mostly high school age students. [Haaretz]
Reports put the number of wounded at about 10, among them a 16-year-old boy in serious condition from chest wounds.[Jerusalem Post]
An East Jerusalem resident is believed to have perpetrated the attack, and police and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops searched the premises for two hours to determine whether there were other terrorists. The perpetrator attacked the students as they celebrated a holiday in the “Mercaz Harav” school dining room and studied religious texts in the school library. Details were still unclear in the immediate aftermath of the event, but reports suggest that the terrorist was killed by an IDF paratrooper who engaged him in a gun battle.
In Gaza, where Iran-backed terrorists have fired more than 4,000 rockets at civilians in Israel during the past two years, Palestinians celebrated the attacks by firing guns in the air, handing out candy and giving prayers of thanks at local mosques. [Ynet News]
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday (March 5) approved by a vote of 401 – 1 a resolution condemning Palestinian rocket fire from Iran-backed Hamas terrorists.
The legislation (H. Res. 951) stated that the “unprovoked rocket attacks” have killed and injured hundreds of Israeli civilians and traumatized thousands in the Gaza border region. It condemned Hamas for the rocket fire, along with Iran and Syria as enablers of Palestinian terrorism. It also condemned the use of human shields by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.
More than 1,025 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli civilians in 2008, including 20 Iranian-produced Grad rockets. Grad rockets have a longer range than the Qassams typically fired from Gaza. Despite the attacks, Israel has ensured the flow of humanitarian goods into Gaza and also continues to treat Palestinians from Gaza in Israeli hospitals. Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon is currently treating premature twins, a girl and boy born to a woman in Gaza and is also caring for about 15-20 other Palestinian patients. A Grad rocket hit the grounds of Barzilai Hospital on Feb. 27. Ashkelon is about six miles from Gaza.
The House resolution also stated that firing rockets into civilian areas is a violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws. It also recognized that injuries inadvertently inflicted on civilians “as a result of defensive military operations aimed at military targets … is not at all morally equivalent to the deliberate targeting of civilian populations as practiced by Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups.”
The resolution expressed support for Israel’s “sovereign right” to defend itself and stated that the rocket attacks are a serious impediment to the achievement of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Israel’s security cabinet convened on March 5 to address the ongoing Palestinian rocket and mortar fire. The cabinet resolved to continue taking action against areas from which rockets are launched as well as striking at the network of activists, knowledge, production and storage which facilitate the rocket fire. In addition, the cabinet stated that it would continue to “advance the negotiations process with the Palestinian Authority while maintaining freedom of action in the struggle against terrorism.”
Israel on Wednesday also facilitated the passage of about 160 trucks of humanitarian aid and supplies into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom, Karni and Sufa crossings. The assistance was organized with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor Reacts to Terror Attack in Jerusalem
Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON – Today’s terrorist attack on a religious seminary in Jerusalem, in which eight young students were murdered in cold blood by a Palestinian terrorist, is a terrible reminder of the indiscriminate and brutal terrorism Israel faces every day.
The gunman, armed with an automatic assault rifle, heavy ammunition and a bulletproof vest, infiltrated the crowded school library and opened fire at students during religious study.
The reaction in the West Bank and Gaza, including celebrations and praise for the killer, is the result of ongoing and intensive incitement to violence against innocent Israeli civilians.
While continuing to pursue every opportunity for peace, Israel will defend its citizens and take the necessary security measures to combat terror. Be it rocket fire from Gaza or suicide attackers in Jerusalem, Israel expects the international community to take a resolute and determined stand against terror in all its forms.