Hours before going head to head in a highly contentious debate, both US presidential candidates condemned Sunday’s terror attack in Jerusalem in which a Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis and injured five others.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton slammed the deadly shooting in a tweet signed with an “H,” a sign that the Democratic presidential nominee composed the message personally.
“I strongly condemn today’s attack in Jerusalem and my prayers go to the victims’ families. The terrorists must be brought to justice,” she posted on Sunday night.
Levana Malihi, 60, and police officer Yosef Kirma, 29, who was involved in a shootout with the terrorist — were both killed in the Sunday morning attack.
I strongly condemn today's attack in Jerusalem and my prayers go to the victims' families. The terrorists must be brought to justice. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 9, 2016
The attacker, identified by police as a 39-year-old Silwan resident, was shot and killed in the shootout. His name is being kept under wraps by a police gag order.
Republican nominee Donald Trump on Sunday also took to social media to denounce the shooting that he said was a reminder of “the grievous perils facing Israeli citizens.”
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent attendance at the funeral of Shimon Peres, the late Israeli president and prime minister, should have marked a new chapter in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Instead, the streets of Jerusalem tragically flow once more with the blood of innocents,” he said in a statement released by his campaign late Sunday. “We must work to defeat terror once and for all.”
The Palestinian terror attack today reminds the world of the grievous perils facing Israeli citizens. In a split second…
In the wake of the attack, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party praised the shooting, declaring the terrorist a “shahid,” or martyr, while Hamas hailed the attack as “heroic” and “brave.”
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the Gaza-based terror group called the deadly attack “a natural reaction to the crimes and violations of the occupation against our people.”
In Washington, the State Department condemned the latest terror attack in the “strongest possible terms.” Spokesman Mark Toner said there is “absolutely no justification for the taking of innocent lives.” He also condemned statements “glorifying this reprehensible and cowardly attack.”
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov also denounced the shooting as unjustifiable, and castigated Hamas’s praise for the attack as “deplorable and unacceptable.”
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma and British Minister for the Middle East and Africa Tobias similarly condemned the shooting.
The gunman had served time in jail for violence and was supposed to have reported to prison Sunday morning after again being being convicted of assaulting a police officer in 2013.
In an interview with the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news on Saturday, the terrorist said he planned to arrive at Ramle prison in central Israel at 10 a.m. on Sunday — the precise time his deadly shooting spree began.
He had apparently been threatened with an open-ended administrative detention — imprisonment without trial — if he failed to appear at the prison, according to Ma’an news.
He had previously served time in an Israeli prison, from July to December 2015, for charges of incitement.
Israel’s Channel 10 said that the attacker was recently indicted on 15 counts of incitement to violence, and seven counts of supporting a terror organization for posts on Facebook.
He was shot dead by security forces who converged on him as he carried out his shooting spree.
Associated Press contributed to this report.