Israeli police confirmed several people were killed and others injured in a shooting attack in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood in Jerusalem on Friday evening.
It is unclear yet if any of them were critically wounded. They were all dispatched to a nearby hospital.
With number of those killed climbing up to seven according to Haaretz, early indications suggested a terror attack.
The assailant reportedly shot people outside a synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood. He was then killed by security forces while fleeing the incident. Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai arrived to the scene of the shooting shortly after the incident.
"The attack in Jerusalem is a complicated incident. We are searching the area to be sure no other people were involved and are out there," said Shabtai.
Conflicting reports about the gunman emerged after the attack. While outlets such as Ynet said the attacker was a member of the Aqsa Brigades, the Israeli police commissioner said that he may have acted alone.
“The attacker shot everyone he encountered in his way. He launched on a killing spree with a pistol, and shot at close range anyone who happened to be in his way. At some point, he broke away, turning back to his vehicle. People who approached to see what happened were also shot at that point,” Shabtai told Kan news.
“As far as we know now, it was a lone attacker,” he added.
There was no official confirmation about the identity of the attacker. Both Haaretz and Kan reported his name as Khaire Alkam, 21 years old, holder of an Israeli driving license and a resident of the East Jerusalem a-Tour neighborhood.
Reports said that he had no known connections to any terrorist groups. The Israeli police said that the gunman had been before to the place of the attack.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene a meeting with the heads of security agencies to assess the situation. Israel’s far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir is also on his way to the shooting scene.
Following the incident Defense Minister Yoav Galant, now in the United States on a private family visit, is returning urgently to Israel.
US ambassador to Israel Tom Nides called it a “heinous terrorist act.” He tweeted, “[This is] a horrific act of violence at a Jerusalem synagogue on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I am shocked and disgusted at this heinous terrorist attack on innocent people, including children.”
The head of the Arab Israeli Ra’am party, Mansour Abbas, condemned the attack. “We condemn and reject any attack in which innocent civilians are murdered,” he said.
The incident comes at CIA chief Bill Burns is in the country for talks with senior security chiefs, and only three days ahead of the arrival of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Tensions in the region have been rising since Thursday following a deadly raid by IDF forces in which nine Palestinians were killed. On Friday morning, Israel retaliated against Hamas targets following rocket fire from Gaza.
Burns was expected to meet with Netanyahu, Mossad chief David Barnea and other Israeli security officials and discuss the situation in the West Bank, Iran and other regional threats. He will also head to the West Bank to meet with the Palestinian leadership, Walla News reported.
Israel is especially concerned by the Palestinian Authority's decision to stop security cooperation with Israel. According to Israeli news reports, the Netanyahu government will not approach the Palestinians to renew cooperation.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.