Rabbi was returning from prayers at the Western Wall when terrorist struck
Speaking to reporters from his hospital bed, Zeev Katzenelnbogen says his life was protected 'as a gift' from God; PM tells security forces to be on alert for 'copycat attacks'
A man wounded in a deadly shooting attack on Sunday said he was returning home from morning prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City when he was hit by a bullet.
Rabbi Zeev Katzenelnbogen, a 46-year-old father of eight, said he was still wearing his phylacteries and prayer shawl when the shooting started.
“I didn’t really understand what was happening… in a split second I got a really strong pain in the arm right at the spot of the tefillin,” he told reporters from his hospital bed in Jerusalem.
One person was killed and four wounded in the shooting before officers shot and killed the terrorist, an East Jerusalem resident that Hamas identified as one of its members.
Katzenelnbogen, who was moderately wounded, said he then turned back in the direction of the Western Wall to find a building to enter.
“I understand the great miracle, the kindness that God did for me,” he said. “In a second I could have lost my life and I received it as a gift.
“It’s written that the tefillin are connected to the heart… There’s a connection to God and you feel it, you feel covered, you feel protected,” the rabbi added.
The others wounded in the attack were Rabbi Aaron Yehuda, who was hospitalized in serious condition at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and a pair of lightly hurt police officers who received treatment at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem and were later released.
The fatality — the first Israeli civilian killed by Palestinian violence since the 11-day conflict in the Gaza Strip this May — was identified as Eliyahu David Kay, 26, a recent immigrant from South Africa.
At the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett noted that the shooting came several days after a stabbing attack in the Old City, in which a pair of border guards were hurt.
“I have directed the security forces to prepare accordingly and be alert, including over concern for copycat attacks. We need to be on heightened alert and prevent future attacks,” he said.
The premier said he was briefed by Public Security Minister Omar Barlev on the shooting and expressed condolences to Kay’s family.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the police officer’s response, saying they “acted with speed and determination and thwarted a much more severe attack.”
“We’ll continue to fight terror wherever it lifts its head,” Gantz wrote on Twitter.
Barlev earlier toured the scene of the attack with police leaders.
“[The gunman] moved through the alleys and fired quite a bit. Luckily, the alley was mostly empty because otherwise — heaven forbid — there would have been more casualties,” he said.
He also said that the attack appeared to have been planned in advance.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was the “price” for Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.