Hamas has claimed responsibility for a shooting attack in the Ramot neighborhood of east Jerusalem that killed three and wounded six on Thursday morning, in what the Palestinian terror group said was retaliation for Israel’s war against it in Gaza and an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.
The attack was carried out by two brothers from east Jerusalem who had each served sentences in Israeli prisons for terror-related crimes, according to the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service. Ibrahim Namr, 30, and Murad Namr, 38, exited their vehicle and began firing on a group of civilians waiting at a bus stop located by the city’s entrance at around 7:40 a.m. Thursday.
The brothers were quickly shot and killed by two soldiers, one of whom was returning home from active duty in Gaza. That soldier, Roee Eizenbach, had left Gaza just hours earlier and was lightly injured in the incident.
The dead include Elimelech Wasserman, 73, who was reportedly on his way to Ashdod where he worked as a rabbinical judge; Libiah Dickman, 24, who was reportedly pregnant with her first child; and Chana Ifergen, 60, who died at an area hospital. Two of the other shooting victims are hospitalized in serious condition.
The two Namr brothers were both affiliated with Hamas when they were imprisoned in Israel, Murad from 2010 to 2020 and Ibrahim in 2014. The terror group said on Thursday that it was calling for “an escalation” of violence in response to Israel’s war against it in Gaza, declared after Hamas attacked Israel Oct. 7, killing 1,200 and taking hundreds of hostages, and in retaliation after two children were among four people killed during an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday. The Israeli army said two senior terror operatives who were killed were the targets of the raid.
The attack occurred shortly after Israel’s 7 a.m. ceasefire deadline with Hamas was narrowly extended for another day. Instead of releasing 10 hostages, as it has been required to do each day since the truce went into effect last Friday, Hamas is releasing six women and two children, as well as the bodies of three hostages who died in Gaza, according to Israeli media reports. Two Russian-Israeli women released Wednesday as a “gesture” to Russian President Vladimir Putin are being counted in the daily tally.
It was not immediately clear which hostages were dead or which children would be released. There are only four children known to be held hostage in Gaza: teen siblings Aisha and Bilal Ziadna and Kfir and Ariel Bibas, toddlers who with their mother have become a symbol of the crisis. Hamas claimed on Wednesday that the Bibas brothers had been killed along with their mother; Israel has not confirmed or refuted the claim.
The shooting attack took place as U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was in Jerusalem to weigh in as Israeli officials plan the next phase of their war on Hamas. Herzog described the attack to Blinken as “another example of the condition we find ourselves in, a never-ending war against terror organizations and in particular Hamas.” Blinken also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reiterated after their meeting that Israel has committed to destroying Hamas. Blinken reportedly told him that the United States expects Israel to protect civilians in further fighting. According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, 14,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, a figure that does not distinguish between combatants and civilians or denote casualties from misfired Palestinian rockets.
The shooting at the Ramot bus stop comes just over a year after a bomb attack occurred at the same place, killing two. In both cases, far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir appeared shortly at the scene of the attack calling for harsher measures in response to terror and for civilians to arm themselves. Ben-Gvir has said his party would resign from the government if the war is not resumed in short order.
The background of the shooters is certain to add fuel to the debate in Israel over the dangers of releasing prisoners in order to redeem hostages. Israel has released three prisoners held on security offenses for each hostage released from Gaza, but is expected to face pressure to release more prisoners if it wants to see male adults and soldiers released.