The United States on Sunday slammed as “reprehensible and cowardly” an attack in Jerusalem in which a Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis and injured six others, and condemned statements by Palestinian factions celebrating the shooting.
Earlier, Fatah, the party led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, posted a messaged on its official Facebook page praising the shooting and declaring the terrorist a “shahid,” or martyr.
A 60-year-old Israeli woman and 29-year-old man were killed and six others injured after the terrorist, whose name is protected under a gag order for Israeli media, sprayed bullets at passersby from a moving car. The shooter, a resident of Silwan in East Jerusalem, was shot dead by police. Hamas claimed the man as one of their members.
After apparently taking credit for the attack, the Gaza-based terror group also praised the shooting as “heroic” and “brave.”
In a separate statement, Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum called the deadly attack “a natural reaction to the crimes and violations of the occupation against our people.”
In a statement Sunday, the US State Department said it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack that took place today in Jerusalem, which resulted in the death of two Israelis and injured several others.”
“We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and our hopes for a quick and full recovery for those wounded,” the statement continued. “There is absolutely no justification for the taking of innocent lives. We also condemn the statements glorifying this reprehensible and cowardly attack.”
The United Nations’ peace envoy to the region also denounced the shooting, calling it “deplorable” and censuring Hamas for encouraging such assaults.
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro and Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma similarly condemned the shooting.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov issued a statement following the shooting.
“I condemn this morning’s terror attack by a Palestinian perpetrator in occupied East Jerusalem which killed two Israelis and injured six others,” Mladenov wrote. “Nothing can justify such attacks. My thoughts are with the families and friends of all victims and I hope for a full and speedy recovery of the wounded.”
“It is deplorable and unacceptable that Hamas and others choose to glorify such acts which undermine the possibility of a peaceful future for both Palestinians and Israelis,” he added.
According to Israeli monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch, the Fatah party posted on its Facebook page an announcement saying, “The one who carried out the operation today in Jerusalem is a pilgrim [to Mecca] Martyr.”
The Jerusalem branch of the Fatah party posted a message announcing a general strike and mourning “in memory of the souls of the Martyrs of Palestine and this morning’s Martyr.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement also praised that attack, calling it “heroic.”
The gunman opened fire at a group of people waiting at a light rail stop on Haim Bar-Lev Street, hitting one woman before speeding off toward Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau Street where he shot and fatally wounded another woman, 60, who was in her car.
After opening fire on civilians twice, the assailant continued toward the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where he was killed in a shootout with police.
The woman shot in her car and a police officer who helped lead the charge to stop him later succumbed to their injuries, a hospital spokesperson said.
British Minister for the Middle East and Africa Tobias Ellwood posted a Twitter message saying he “utterly condemn[s] the attacks in #Jerusalem. My thoughts are with victims and their families.”
Utterly condemn the attacks in #Jerusalem. My thoughts are with victims and their families.
— Tobias Ellwood MP (@Tobias_Ellwood) October 9, 2016
US ambassador Shapiro tweeted his denunciation of the attack: “strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem. No possible justification. Condolences to the families of the 2 murder victims,” adding the suffix “Z”L,” an English transliteration of the Hebrew acronym for “Of blessed memory.”
Australian envoy Sharma posted a message to his Twitter account: “Condolences to families of 2 female victims, both killed in sickening Jerusalem terror attack. Condemn unreservedly.”
Condolences to families of 2 female victims, both killed in sickening Jerusalem terror attack. Condemn unreservedly. https://t.co/CUZyrzfCZV
— Paul Griffiths ???????? (@AusAmbIsrael) October 9, 2016
The Palestinian terrorist who carried out the morning attack was supposed to have turned himself in to prison at that precise time, Ma’an news reported.
He was identified as a 39-year-old man from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. His name was restricted under a police gag order.
In 2013, the gunman was indicted for assaulting a police officer in Jerusalem’s Old City. The case was dropped that year, but it was reopened in 2015.
The East Jerusalem resident was convicted and sentenced to four months in prison.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.