Jerusalem gunman said to be Haifa man who recently converted to Islam
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Jerusalem gunman said to be Haifa man who recently converted to Islam

Footage shows suspect, reportedly a florist, opening fire on security checkpoint near Temple Mount; brothers said detained

An Arab Israeli man opens fire on police officers in Jerusalem in footage published by police, February 6, 2020. (Screenshot/Israel police)
An Arab Israeli man opens fire on police officers in Jerusalem in footage published by police, February 6, 2020. (Screenshot/Israel police)

The Israel Police said Thursday that the terrorist who opened fire at a group of police officers outside the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City was an Israeli citizen from northern Israel.

The shooting lightly injured one Border Police officer, while the fleeing assailant was shot dead by pursuing officers.

Hebrew-language media named the shooter as Shadi Bana, 45, from Haifa. He reportedly converted from Christianity to Islam recently.

The wounded officer, identified by police only as Master Sergeant G., was one of the officers who charged at Bana.

“The terrorist suddenly pulled a gun and started shooting toward us a few rounds,” G. said in a police video released after the attack. “Even though I was hit in the shoulder I charged at him together with another officer who was with me at the post, and we neutralized him,” he said.

Police at the scene of an attack near the Lions Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City in which a police officer was lightly injured and the assailant was killed, February 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Police reportedly detained two of the shooter’s brothers for questioning and collected security camera footage from a flower shop in Haifa owned by one of the brothers. Both brothers deny knowing of the shooter’s plans.

Bana reportedly also sold flowers in the northern city.

“He was the last person I would think could become a terrorist. I had a hard time believing he could even quarrel with someone. I’m shocked by this,” one of Bana’s neighbors told the Ynet news site.

“To know that a terrorist like that could come from our city, a man that I see every day, and he did such a deed — there are no words,” Shimon Sabag, a neighbor, said of Bana.

“Until last night everything was fine. He was a quiet, regular guy. I wouldn’t say he was a bad man,” said Shadi Ibrahim, another acquaintance of Bana. “He never fought with anybody. Was always pleasant and nice. I still don’t believe he’s a terrorist.”

Police and rescuers at the scene of an attack near the Lions Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City in which a police officer was lightly injured and the assailant was killed, February 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Security camera footage of the attack released by police shows the gunman armed with a pistol walk up to a group of officers under a tent outside the holy site and shoot at them.

One officer is seen getting hit by a bullet and collapsing, while other officers return fire at the assailant and chase after him.

The footage does not show the moment the gunman was shot dead by the officers.

“The officers responded with determination, neutralized the assailant and prevented further attacks on innocents,” the police said in a statement.

The incident occurred outside the Temple Mount, between the King Faisal Gate, also known as the Gate of Darkness, and the Lions Gate, Israeli officials said.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said the officer, 38, sustained light injuries to his arm.

Ayman Odeh, head of the predominantly Arab Joint List Knesset party, denounced the attack.

Rescuers at the scene of an attack near the Lions Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City in which a police officer was lightly injured and the assailant was killed, February 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“We strongly condemn this shooting,” Odeh, of the Hadash faction, said in a statement. “It is unacceptable for an Israeli citizen to use a weapon. The Arab citizens of the state have chosen a just civil and democratic struggle to end the occupation and for peace and equality. We will not accept any other way.”

The Israel Defense Forces said Thursday that it would send an additional battalion to the West Bank in light of the increase in violence in the region.

The military said the decision was made following a “situational assessment.”

IDF battalions normally include several hundred soldiers.

The Jerusalem shooting came hours after a car-ramming in the capital in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday morning in which 12 soldiers were injured, one of them seriously, and following significant clashes in Jenin during the demolition of a terrorist’s home in the West Bank city.

Police at the scene of an attack near the Lions Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City in which a police officer was lightly injured and the assailant was killed, February 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

In a separate attack, a soldier was lightly injured just before noon on Thursday in a drive-by shooting along a West Bank highway.

In the clashes in Jenin, a Palestinian police officer and a Palestinian police cadet were killed in separate incidents under unclear circumstances.

On Wednesday, a Palestinian teenager was also shot dead by Israeli troops as he threw a Molotov cocktail at them in Hebron, the military said.

In the south, the past week has seen a stream of rocket and mortar attacks and dozens of balloon-borne explosive devices launched from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel, generally landing in or near communities close to the Hamas-ruled enclave, including on Wednesday night and Thursday. Israeli aircraft responded by attacking Hamas infrastructure in southern Gaza shortly after midnight on Thursday.

Tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem have been heightened over the past week, following the release of US President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last Tuesday. The Palestinian Authority immediately rejected the proposal, which was widely seen as being overwhelmingly favored toward Israel.

In the week and a half since the plan’s release, the military has noted a significant spike in violence in the West Bank, with regular riots, rock-throwing and violent opposition to Israeli arrest raids.

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