Gunman kills eight at Jerusalem school

Friday, March 7, 2008

A building at Mercaz HaRav

On Thursday night, a Palestinian gunman entered the library at the Mercaz HaRav, an orthodox religious seminary, in Jerusalem, Israel. He opened fire with an automatic weapon, killing eight people and wounding another ten.

This is the most lethal attack on Israeli civilians in two years and the first attack in Jerusalem in more than three years.

"A terrorist infiltrated the Mercaz HaRav seminary and opened fire. He was killed in an exchange of fire and apparently had an explosives belt," said police spokesperson Shmuel Ben Ruby.

Police chief Aharon Franco said the attack was carried out by a lone gunman who "hid the weapon in a cardboard box." He said the gunman was subsequently killed by an Israeli army officer who, living nearby, ran to the school after hearing gunfire.

Seminary student Yitzhak Dadon, however, claims that he shot the gunman. "He came out of the library spraying automatic fire. ... The terrorist came to the entrance and I shot him twice in the head," Dadon told reporters.

It's very sad tonight in Jerusalem. Many people were killed in the heart of Jerusalem

—Mayor Uri Lupolianski

"I saw the gunman and he fired a long burst in the air. But then he disappeared. I saw him again when he approached the door of the library. I shot him twice in the head. He started to sway and then someone else with a rifle fired at him, and he died," Dadon said.

Hamas sent a text message to reporters, stating, "We bless the (Jerusalem) operation. It will not be the last," but it did not claim responsibility. Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior spokesperson for Hamas, said the group "blesses the heroic operation in Jerusalem, which was a natural reaction to the Zionist massacre," referring to the recent Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip which killed at least 58 Palestinian civilians.

"It's very sad tonight in Jerusalem. Many people were killed in the heart of Jerusalem," said Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel said, "terrorists are trying to destroy the chances of peace but we will certainly continue peace talks."

President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas, who recently froze peace talks with Israel, condemned the attack in Jerusalem.