An Israeli soldier was lightly injured early Monday morning when Palestinians threw a pipe bomb at his unit during an operation in a Palestinian town north of Jerusalem, a day after a shooting attack by a Palestinian man left two dead and five wounded in the capital.
The incident came as Israeli troops rounded up dozens of Palestinians in the aftermath of the shooting spree, including 31 Palestinians seeking to participate in celebrations in memory of the assailant as well as relatives of the attacker in East Jerusalem, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio.
The troops were measuring the al-Ram home of the terrorist behind Sunday morning’s attack — one of the first steps necessary before it can be demolished — when local residents tossed the improvised explosive device at them, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
One of the soldiers was lightly wounded by shrapnel from the pipe bomb and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, the army said.
On Sunday morning, the 39-year-old Palestinian man, whose name is sealed under a court-imposed gag order, drove past police headquarters near Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill and opened fire at a group of people standing near the light rail station, hitting one woman.
He continued on his spree, shooting and fatally wounding Levana Malihi, 60, who had been driving in her car, before police officers on motorcycles managed to shoot him dead after a short gun battle. One officer, First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, was fatally injured and another moderately hurt in the shootout.
On Sunday evening, crowds gathered in the streets outside the home to praise the attack. People walked the streets handing out candies to passing motorists at the same time that the funerals of the two victims were taking place.
The house was decorated with green Hamas flags and a huge poster calling him a shahid, or martyr. His mother stood outside welcoming visitors who came to celebrate the killings.
“With spirit and with blood we will redeem you,” crowds chanted, according to a Ynet news report. “Hurray for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades,” referring to the military wing of Hamas.
Pictures and videos of the celebrations drew angry condemnations in Israel and the US, and Erdan instructed police to prevent any gatherings of supporters of the murderer.
Some 31 people were arrested in East Jerusalem for celebrating the terror attack by handing out candies, putting up posters in support of the shooter, shouting “Allahu akbar” — God is great, in Arabic — and encouraging store owners to shutter their shops in solidarity with the terrorist, police said.
While many Israeli politicians called for the terrorist’s home to be demolished immediately, this was mostly rhetorical, as the process of razing a home, which begins with measuring the building, generally takes at least several weeks, if not several months, before it is completed.
The attacker had been living in Silwan but the army measured his family home in nearby al-Ram.
An al-Ram resident was arrested during the operation, though the army would not comment on if he was involved in the pipe bomb attack, had a connection to Sunday’s shooting or was picked up for an unrelated charge.
During raids across the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Sunday night and early Monday morning, Israeli security forces arrested dozens more Palestinians, most of them for taking part in violent protests, officials said. In total 62 Palestinians were arrested Sunday night and Monday morning.
That figure included the daughter of the attacker and other relatives.
Another 15 people were arrested in East Jerusalem, suspected of “riot crimes,” including “throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at civilians and at security forces,” a police spokesperson said.
In addition to the al-Ram and Azzun arrests, IDF soldiers picked up an additional 9 Palestinian suspects overnight, seven of them for allegedly taking part in violent protests and rock throwing, the army said.
The IDF also continued its crackdown on the manufacture and sale of illegal weapons in the West Bank, shutting down an alleged gunsmithing workshop and seizing a homemade submachine gun.
In Azzun, a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank, Givati Brigade soldiers shuttered a machine shop believed to have been used to illegally manufacture guns, welding the doors of the building closed, the army said.
The equipment in the workshop was also confiscated, along with some weaponry, including a homemade firearm that was apparently meant to look like a Thompson submachine gun, the IDF said.
Six people were also arrested in the Palestinian village apparently in connection with the workshop, an army spokesperson said.
In Surif, west of the Etzion bloc, soldiers uncovered another illegal, homemade gun, which was handed over to the Shin Bet and police for further investigation, the army said.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, light clashes broke out Sunday night as some 1,200 worshippers were escorted by the IDF, Israel Police, Border Police and Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, the army said.
Each month, religious Jews are allowed into the Palestinian city to visit the holy site — a part of the West Bank that is normally off-limits to Israelis — which almost always results in local residents throwing rocks and firebombs at the troops defending them.
Sunday night was no different, with “a number of violent riots taking place throughout the city,” the army said.
Security forces drove back the rioters “with no injuries and no damage caused,” the army said.
“The prayers took place as normal,” according to a military statement.
Sunday’s attack broke a spell of calm in the capital that followed a months-long wave of violence last autumn and winter that included several attacks near Ammunition Hill.
Officials had feared a return to stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks with the onset of the fall holiday season, when religious tensions often spike.
October 2015 marked the start of several months of near-daily attacks during which at least 34 Israelis and over 200 Palestinians were killed in a spate of attacks. Most of the Palestinians killed were attackers or involved in clashes with troops.
AFP contributed to this report.