Two Hamas gunmen killed three people at a Jerusalem bus stop during morning rush hour on Thursday, and Israel reiterated its commitment to wiping out the Palestinian Islamist faction, whose Oct. 7 killing spree triggered the Gaza war.
The attackers, Palestinians from East Jerusalem, were shot dead by off-duty soldiers and an armed civilian, police said. At least eight people were also wounded in the shooting.
“The terrorists arrived at the scene by car in the morning, armed with an M-16 rifle and a handgun,” police said. “The terrorists began shooting at civilians before subsequently being killed at the scene.”
Security camera footage obtained by Reuters shows a white car stopping beside the crowded bus stop. Two men then step out, guns drawn, and charge at the crowd as people scatter. Shortly afterwards the Palestinian attackers are themselves shot.
A large number of first-responders and security forces converged on the area that was crowded with morning commuters. The slain victims were identified by Israeli media as a woman in her 20s, a woman in her 60s, and a 74-year-old rabbi.
Israel’s Shin Bet security agency identified the gunmen as 30- and 38-year-old brothers who were affiliated with Hamas, which runs Gaza. Both had previously been jailed in Israel.
“It is the same Hamas that carried out the horrible Oct. 7 massacre, the same Hamas that tries to murder us everywhere,” Netanyahu said, shortly after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem. “I told him [Blinken]: ‘We swore, I swore, to eradicate Hamas. Nothing will stop us.’”
Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, claimed responsibility for the Jerusalem attack, deeming it “heroic.”
“The operation came as a natural response to unprecedented crimes conducted by the Occupation,” it said in a statement, citing the military offensive in Gaza and the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Israel’s far-right minister for police, Itamar Ben-Gvir, told reporters at the site of the attack that it “proves again how we must not show weakness, that we must speak to Hamas only through the [rifle] scopes, only through the war.”
He added that Israel would continue its policy of easing regulations for issuing gun licenses to private citizens.
Blinken, on his third visit to the region since the war erupted, said Thursday’s shooting was a reminder “of the threat from terrorism that Israel and Israelis face every single day … My heart goes out to the victims of this attack.”
Separately, in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said two soldiers were injured in a car-ramming attack at a checkpoint. Troops at the scene “shot and neutralized the assailant,” it said. There was no immediate Palestinian comment.
The violence came as Israel and Hamas struck a last-minute agreement on Thursday to extend their six-day ceasefire in Gaza by one more day to allow negotiators to keep working on deals to swap hostages held in the enclave for Palestinian prisoners.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Bernadette Baum, Gareth Jones, William Maclean)