JERUSALEM, -- On Sunday, a Hamas militant opened fire on Jerusalem's Old City. He killed one Israeli and wounded four others before being fatally shot by Israeli officers.
It wasn't immediately clear if Hamas, an Islamic militant organization that has sworn to Israel destruction, ordered the attack or if one of its members had taken responsibility. Hamas, the Gaza Strip's ruler, has generally abided to the cease-fire with Israel after an 11-day war in May. There have been few shootings inside the Old City.
According to police, the attack occurred near a flashpoint shrine that is contested. It was known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. The site is sacred to both faiths and has been the subject of violence in the past, including fighting last May.
According to Israeli officials, Eliyahu Kay (26-year-old South African immigrant) was shot and killed in the attack. Kay was a recent worker at the Western Wall. This is the holy site where Jews can pray. One of the wounded was in serious condition.
The attacker was identified by police as a 42 year-old Palestinian living in east Jerusalem. Palestinian media identified the attacker as Fadi Abu Khkhaidem, a teacher at nearby high school.
Hamas in Gaza praised the attack and claimed Abu Shkhaidem was one its members. The group did not claim responsibility for the attack.
Abdel Latif al-Qanou, a spokesperson for the Palestinian resistance, stated that "our people's resistance against the Zionist occupier will continue to be valid by all means and instruments until our desired goals have been achieved and the occupation from all of our lands and holy sites is expelled."
Since it took Gaza control from rival Fatah in 2007, Hamas has waged four wars against Israel.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a strenuous blockade of Gaza since Hamas' takeover. This has caused great damage to Gaza's already fragile economy. Indirect talks between Israel and Hamas since the May war have been held through Egyptian mediators in an effort to cement a long-term ceasefire.
Israel considers Hamas terrorist group, as do the U.S., European Union and Israel. Britain stated Friday that it will also ban Hamas and other terrorist groups and would not differentiate between its military and political wings.
As Israel's president figurehead, Isaac Herzog called for other countries to do the same as him when he arrived in Britain for an official visit on Sunday. Herzog tweeted, "The fact that the terrorist was from Hamas'political Wing compels the international community recognize it as a terrorist group."
Dimiter Tzantchev (the EU ambassador-designate for Israel) condemned the "senseless attack on civilians." "Violence is not the solution."
The U.S. State Department released a statement condemning this attack and also noted in a separate security alert, that U.S. government employees and their families were advised to avoid Old City until further notice.
Sunday's incident was only the second in Jerusalem's Old City's history. A Palestinian teenager was shot and killed after stabbing two Israeli border officers.
In recent years, Palestinians have committed dozens of car-ramming, shooting and stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians and security officers. Rights groups and Palestinians claim that some of the car-rammings are accidental and accuse Israel for using excessive force.
However, shootings in Jerusalem's Old City or its holy sites are rare and Israel has a large security presence.
In 1967, Israel captured east Jerusalem including the Old City, its Christian, Muslim, and Jewish holy places. In a move that was not recognized by the majority of the international community, Israel annexed east Jerusalem.
For a future independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital, the Palestinians want Gaza and West Bank occupied.