The scene of the shooting attack in Neve Yaakov (Twitter account of photojournalist Hassan Aslih, January 27, 2023).
Celebration in the Jenin refugee camp (Safa, January 27, 2023).
Happy mothers of shaheeds in the Jenin refugee camp in a group photo (Twitter account of photojournalist Hassan Aslih, January 27, 2023).
Distributing baklava in Gaza (Twitter account of journalist Ashraf Abu Amara, January 27, 2023).
- On Friday night, January 27, 2023, a Palestinian terrorist carried out a shooting attack in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, killing seven civilians and wounding three. The shooter was a resident of east Jerusalem, 21 years old from the a-Tor neighborhood and was killed while being pursued. On the morning of January 28, 2023, a Palestinian boy carried out a shooting attack in the Silwan neighborhood in east Jerusalem, wounding a father and son. The shooter was a 13 year-old child from Silwan; he was shot and wounded. Neither had a past security record. Israeli security sources assume both attacks were inspired by recent events in Jenin.
- So far the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not condemned either attack. On January 28, 2023, Mahmoud Abbas called an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership, after which an announcement was issued placing responsibility for the attacks on Israel’s “escalation.” No mention was made of the Israeli civilian dead and wounded.
- Palestinians celebrated the attacks in the streets of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (AAMB) and other terrorist organizations called them the “natural response” to Israel’s “crimes” in general and in Jenin in particular. The Arab-Muslim world issued condemnations: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Jordan issued condemnations stating terrorism was unacceptable, for which Hamas criticized them.
The Shooting Attack in Neve Yaakov
- On Friday night, January 27, 2023, seven Israeli civilians were killed in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, near a synagogue on the main street. A Palestinian drove his vehicle to the site at 8:15 p.m., exited the vehicle and used a standard handgun to shoot at passersby, aiming for their upper torsos. He killed four civilians and then shot and killed a civilian riding a motorcycle. People who heard the shots went into the street to see what had happened and he shot at them as well, killing a young man and his wife. The attack lasted for only a few minutes, after which he returned to his vehicle and drove in the direction of Beit Hanina, where he found the road blocked by police. He stopped the vehicle, exited it and shot at the police, who shot and killed him
The scene of the shooting attack in Neve Yaakov
(Twitter account of photojournalist Hassan Aslih, January 27, 2023).
- The terrorist was Khairy Musa Alqam, 21 years old, from the al-Shiah neighborhood of a-Tor in east Jerusalem. He had no security record but often posted militant notices regarding Israel on the Palestinian social networks. Israeli security sources assume he operated alone, knew how to fire a gun, was familiar with the neighborhood and planned the attack well in advance.
- Alqam graduated from the a-Tor comprehensive high school in east Jerusalem. He was named for his grandfather, Khairy Alqam, who was stabbed to death on May 13, 1998, by an Israeli settler (Palestine Online, January 28, 2023). In the recent past he worked as an electrician. His father claimed he did not belong to any organization. An uncle said they were proud of him for doing what was the duty of every Palestinian. He said Khairy was a devout Muslim, “well educated” and an expert electrician. He owned his own apartment and vehicle and was planning to marry, but instead “chose to make all Palestine happy” (Palestine Online, January 29, 2023).
Right: Khairy Alqam. Left: Notice issued after the attack
(Twitter account of photojournalist Hassan Aslih, January 27, 2023).
- Despite claims Alqam carried out the attack in response to events in Jenin, no mention of Jenin was made on his social network accounts, which refer to “struggle” and “sacrifice.” His last posting on TikTok was a picture of himself in al-Aqsa mosque after the Friday prayer, writing, “#Soul! If you don’t kill, then die! We raise our hands [in surrender] only to Allah, bow down only before Allah, and listen to only the messenger of Allah.” His last posting on his Facebook page was two days before the attack and was dedicated to the memory of Muhammad Ali, a Palestinian killed on January 25, 2023, during the demolition of terrorist Uday al-Tamimi’s house in Shuafat. A post from October 2021 became popular after Alqam’s death, when he wrote, “Who says we want peace? We want war without end.” In June 2021 he wrote, “You can retreat to avoid war, but never retreat one millimeter once fighting has begun.” In October 2020 he wrote, “One good sniper at the right time is preferable to a thousand soldiers on the battlefield” (website of the Egyptian al-Shorouq and Palestine Online, January 28, 2023).
- Social network surfers affiliated with Fatah posted an old picture of Alqam claiming it was taken when he was a camper at a Fatah Ashbal summer camp, conducted in collaboration with the PA’s national security services, noting with pride that Fatah had educated [brainwashed] him for revenge and sacrifice for the “homeland” (Twitter accounts of Abo Mohamed and Walid Salman, January 29, 2023).
Right: Alqam’s post, “One good sniper at the right time is preferable to a thousand soldiers on the battlefield” (Abo Mohamed’s Twitter account, January 29, 2023). Left: Alqam at a Fatah summer camp (Walid Salman’s Twitter account, January 29, 2023).
- The AAMB mourned his death. They issued a mourning notice stating, “The action was the natural response to the crimes of the Zionist enemy against the Palestinian people, the most recent of which occurred in the Jenin refugee camp…confirming that the choice of armed resistance is the fastest way to respond to the Zionist enemy’s crimes” (Quds Press, January 27, 2023).
- When the attacks were reported Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip began celebrating. They went out into the streets, distributed pastries and candy to passersby, and waved Palestinian and Hamas flags. Members of the Hamas leadership also distributed pastries and candy, among them Musheir al-Masri, who waved a rifle and exulted in front of the cameras, “This is our choice, the rifle” (a quote from Aziz Rantisi, a senior Hamas terrorist leader killed by Israel 19 years ago). Many residents of Jenin also celebrated, including the mother of Wassim Ghais, who was killed in the Jenin refugee camp the day before. She handed out candy and shouted for joy. The reactions were similar in Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah.
Celebration with fireworks in Nablus after the killing spree in Jerusalem (Palestine Online, January 27, 2023). Left: Celebration with fireworks in Kafr ‘Aqa (Facebook page of Hia Amro, January 28, 2023).
Celebration in the Jenin refugee camp (Safa, January 27, 2023).
Right: Smiling AAMB operatives distribute candy at the entrance to the Jenin refugee camp (@Abo-mohamad18 Twitter account, January 28, 2023). Left: Happy mothers of shaheeds in the Jenin refugee camp in a group photo (Twitter account of photojournalist Hassan Aslih, January 27, 2023).
Right: Distributing baklava in Gaza (Twitter account of journalist Ashraf Abu Amara, January 27, 2023). Left: Sign with a picture of Khairy Alqam at the al-Saraya Junction in the center of Gaza City (Ghaza al-‘An Twitter account, January 29, 2023).
- Palestinian spokesmen claimed the attack was revenge for the events in Jenin. The Palestinian media covering the attack said it was the most deadly attack in Israel in the past 12 years. The media in the Gaza Strip broadcast pictures of the victims’ bodies with the headline, “Jenin’s revenge…Jerusalem avenges the deaths of the shaheeds in the slaughter in Jenin.” Hezbollah-affiliated al-Mayadeen TV stated that “The mourning in Jenin was transformed into joy, and the mourning tents erected by the families of the shaheeds were turned into reception centers for people who came to celebrate after the news of the sacrifice attack in Jerusalem was made public.”
- Hamas issued a formal statement claiming the attack was the “natural response to the slaughter in Jenin, the desecration of al-Aqsa mosque and the escalation of the crimes and attacks against the Palestinians.” Hamas called it a message for the government of Israel, asserting that the Palestinians’ will could not be broken nor their determination weakened, and the “resistance” [violence and terrorism] would increase despite “the pain and victims.” The Palestinians, claimed Hamas, would continue attacking enemy sites, bases and settlements, and the Palestinians would continue to choose “resistance” until their land and holy places were liberated and all their “national rights had been restored” [sic] (Hamas website, January 28, 2023).
- Hamas spokesman also praised the attack, claiming it came as the natural response to the events in Jenin:
- Hazem Qassem called the attack “the natural response to the occupation’s crime” and revenge for the shaheeds in Jenin. He said the operations against Israel would continue (Hamas website, January 27, 2023).
- Abd al-Latif al-Qanua claimed the attack proved the “occupation’s” inability to cope with the “resistance” [anti-Israeli Palestinian violence and terrorism] and its failure to divide the Palestinian fronts. He added that the attack was a response to the “crimes of the new fascist settler government,” the most recent of which was the “slaughter” in Jenin, and the attack, he claimed, was a manifestation of the Palestinians’ unity in “resisting” Israel (Hamas website, January 27, 2023).
- Muhammad Hamada, Hamas spokesman for Jerusalem affairs, said the Palestinians did not forget the blood of the shaheeds and took vengeance at a time and place of their choosing. He claimed Jerusalem was a “reservoir” of revolution, a production line for “acts of courage” and a source of vengeance for the blood of the shaheeds. He added that the “resistance” was the Palestinians’ only response to the “Zionist occupation” (Israel). He also said the attack in Jerusalem warned Israel of what the future held (Hamas website, January 27, 2023).
- The PIJ issued a statement praising the attack and claiming it showed the unity of the fronts: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The PIJ’s military-terrorist wing called the attack “an act of courage” (Jerusalem Brigades’ Telegram channel, January 27, 2023). PIJ figure Da’ud Shehab also said it was “the incarnation of what is called ‘resistance’ for the final battle for liberation,” which he claimed was very close (Filastin al-Yawm, January 27, 2023).
- Hezbollah praised the attack, calling it a “strong slap in the face for the extremist government.” Hezbollah also called it a brave measure which had confused Israel and exposed its fragility, and strongly condemned the Arab and Muslim governments whose condemnation of the “brave act sent an ambiguous message” (al-Mayadeen, January 27, 2023).
The Shooting Attack in Silwan
- On January 28, 2023, an attack was carried out in the Silwan neighborhood of east Jerusalem. At around 10:40 a.m. a 13 year-old Palestinian boy, hiding behind a parked car, shot a gun at passersby who were going to the Western Wall, seriously wounding a father and son. The shooter was shot and wounded. The attack may have been inspired by the attack in Neve Yaakov and the events in Jenin.
Right: The gun used in the shooting. Left: The site of the attack
(Israel Police Force Facebook page, January 28, 2023).
- The shooter was Muhammad Mahmoud Aliwat, 13 years old, from east Jerusalem, a student in the 8th grade in the al-Faraqat Islamic Boys’ school in Shuafat. A message to his mother was posted to the Palestinian social media, reading, “Forgive me, mother. You will be proud of me;” however, it is not possible to confirm its authenticity. Jerusalem activists from Silwan reported he did not have an extended family in Jerusalem and his father’s roots were in Jordan. No record of him could be found on the social networks, which led to the posting of pictures eventually found to be of a child from Morocco with a similar name. The social networks also reported he was related to Wadia Abu Ramouz, 17 years old, from Silwan, who was wounded and died on January 27, 2023, but Abu Ramouz’ family denied the connection, stating that the two simply lived in the same neighborhood.
Right: Muhammad Mahmoud Aliwat (aljazeera.net, January 29, 2023). Left: Aliwat during his evacuation to a hospital after being shot and wounded (Shehab, January 28, 2023).
- The Palestinian organizations welcomed, praised and celebrated the attack, again claiming that like Neve Yaakov, it was a response to the events in Jenin. The celebration in Jenin, which began on Friday night, increased on Saturday and was covered by Palestinian and Hezbollah media outlets.
Palestinians in Jenin celebrate the shooting attacks
(Sada News Twitter account, January 28, 2023).
- So far, as usual, the PA has not condemned either shooting attack or the Israeli casualties. On January 28, 2023, Mahmoud Abbas held an emergency meeting of the PA leadership, after which an announcement was issued, blaming the Israeli government for the attacks in Jerusalem. It read, “We place full responsibility on the ‘occupation government’ for the dangerous escalation on the ground, we continue implementing our decisions from previous meetings [i.e., stopping security coordination with Israel, declared after the events in Jenin], and call for forcing the ‘occupation government’ to stop its unilateral measures” (Wafa, January 28, 2023).
- The AAMB claimed the “heroic act” was “the natural reaction to the crimes of the Zionist enemy against the Palestinian people,” especially in the Jenin refugee camp (AAMB Telegram channel, January 28, 2023).
- The Palestinian social networks issued part of a video of ‘Atta Abu Armila, secretary of the Fatah branch in the Jenin district (who is subordinate to Mahmoud Abbas as head of Fatah), praising and expressing esteem for the “heroes” who “lift the heads of the Palestinians and the Arab-Muslim nation, write the epic of heroism in the eternal capital of Jerusalem, and avenge the blood of the shaheeds of Jenin and all the Palestinians…The war has begun and will not stop” (Twitter accounts of Wessam Masrea and Sada News, January 28, 2023). On another occasion, at the funeral held in the Jenin refugee camp for Omar al-Sa’adi, Abu Armila declared war on Israel throughout “Palestine,” and on behalf of the residents of Jenin, expressed esteem for the “suicide heroes,” the “heroes of Jerusalem,” Khairy Alqam and Muhammad Aliwat and all the suicide bombers, the shaheeds and “heroic fighters” who avenged the deaths of the shaheeds in Jenin (@qudsfeed Telegram channel, January 29, 2023).
- Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua said the “heroic actions” in Jerusalem and other regions were translated into actions of the “resistance position” not to delay response, and Israel (“the enemy”) had already begun to pay the price for its “crimes.” He added the Palestinians would continue their “revolt” against the “Zionist occupation and its flocks of settlers, and they will pay a high price for their crimes and aggression against the Palestinians and their holy sites” (Hamas website, January 28, 2023). Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the attack symbolized “the continuing resistance on all the occupied land.” He claimed it was the response to the “occupation’s crimes” and that the battle would continue until it had achieved its objectives of “freedom and independence” [a Palestinian country from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea] (Hazem Qassem’s Telegram channel, January 28, 2023).
- Muhammad Hamada, Hamas spokesman for Jerusalem affairs, claimed the “heroic action” in Silwan was part of the “Palestinians’ natural reactions to the slaughter in Jenin and desecration of al-Aqsa mosque [sic].” He said the victims in Silwan were “settlers who polluted al-Aqsa mosque,” adding that the action confirmed the Palestinians had chosen to use weapons to confront Israel (Hamas website, January 28, 2023). Jihad Tahe, another Hamas spokesman, said the second attack in Jerusalem was part of the ongoing “resistance to the occupation,” a right anchored in all international law. He claimed the real terrorism was the “acts of slaughter” and “crimes” committed by “the occupation” against the Palestinians, which were a real example of international terrorism (Hamas website, January 28, 2023).
- Tareq Izz al-Din, PIJ spokesman for Judea and Samaria, praised the attack in Jerusalem on behalf of his organization, claiming it was another uprising against Israel (“the occupation”). He claimed the “heroic action,” the day after the action of shaheed Khairy Alqam, showed Israel would not enjoy security on Palestinian land (Daffa_media Telegram channel, January 28, 2023).
- Hezbollah deputy secretary Na’im Qassem said they praised the “excellent attack” in Jerusalem carried out in response to the “crimes of the occupation.” He also noted that Israel’s hour of defeat was approaching (Na’im Qassem’s Twitter account, January 28, 2023).
Reactions from security prisoners in Israeli jails
- Dozens of inmates in Israeli prison facilities celebrated the attacks, leading the Israel Prison Service to move some of them to solitary confinement overnight. The PA called the events “revenge taken on the Palestinian prisoners after the attacks in Jerusalem.” Some of the Palestinian media outlets claimed “prisoners were abused and shock grenades were thrown at them.” Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, responded to the events by warning that the region was proceeding towards an “unprecedented escalation,” claiming the confrontation would not end within prison walls because the Palestinian people would not abandon the prisoners. He said that Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security, was behind a program of organized terrorism, part of which was violence against prisoners (Hamas website, January 28, 2023). The Palestinian organizations warned of an attempt to harm prisoners, claiming Israeli the objective of the “Israeli aggression” against them was to deflect attention from the “acts of heroism” [the terrorist attacks] in Jerusalem (al-Risalah, January 29, 2023).
- After the terrorist attacks in Neve Yaakov and Silwan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the political-security cabinet, after which Israel announced a series of measures to counteract Palestinian attacks, among them immediately sealing the houses of the terrorists who carried out the attacks in preparation for demolishing them, the revoking national insurance benefits of the families of the terrorists and revoking their Israeli ID cards, and extending and accelerating authorization for Israeli civilians to bear arms (Israeli media, January 30, 2023).
- The PA foreign ministry condemned the cabinet’s decision, claiming actions against non-armed Palestinians in Jerusalem were a violation of international law and intended to attack the Palestinian presence in the city. According to the foreign ministry, Israel was directly responsible for the escalation, and it called on the international community and the American administration to force the Israeli government to stop implementing illegal unilateral measures so that the path to negotiations could be renewed (United States State Department website, January 29, 2023).
Foreign reactions to the terrorist attack in Neve Yaakov
- Countries around the world, including Arab-Muslim countries, were quick to condemn the shooting attack in Neve Yaakov. They issued statements offering condolences and expressed shock and sorrow. However, the previous day the same countries condemned Israel for its activities in Jenin:
- Antony Blinken, the American Secretary of State, condemned the shooting attack in the strongest terms. He sent his condolences to the families of the slain, wished the wounded a full recovery, and stressed the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security (United States State Department website, January 28, 2023).
- Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, condemned the attack. In a statement from his spokesman he said he sent condolences to the families of the victims and wished the wounded a speedy recovery. He said he was worried by the “escalation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories,” stating that terrorist attacks would never be justified and everyone had to condemn and oppose them. He called for the utmost restraint (UN website, January 28, 2023).
- Dimiter Tzantchev, the EU ambassador to Israel, said he was shocked by the terrorist attack. He sent his condolences to the families of the victims and said terrorism was never the answer (Dimiter Tzantchev’s Twitter account, January 28, 2023).
- Reactions from Arab-Muslim states:
- The Egyptian foreign ministry issued a statement condemning all actions targeting civilians, and warning of the dangers inherent in the continuing escalation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. The ministry called on both to employ restraint and stop the attacks and provocations, which led to the deterioration of the political and humanitarian situation and undermined efforts for calm (al-Masry al-Youm, January 28, 2023).
- Sanan al-Majali, spokesman for the Jordanian foreign ministry, condemned the attack. The foreign ministry said in a statement that the kingdom condemned every instance and all forms of violence against civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories [sic]. He said “urgent steps had to be taken to stop the dangerous escalation which claimed the lives of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.” He warned of an outbreak of violence for which everyone would pay the price (Ammon News Agency, January 28, 2023).
- The UAE issued a strong condemnation of the attack. Its foreign ministry sent condolences to the Israeli government and “the friendly nation,” and to the families of the victims. The announcement stated the UAE consistently opposed all forms of violence and terrorism, which counteract human principles and ideology (Sky News, January 27, 2023). The UAE’s foreign ministry also condemned the terrorist attack, saying in an announcement that they always opposed all forms of violence and terrorism, which undermined security and stability and were inconsistent with human values and principles (UAE News Agency, January 27, 2023).The Turkish foreign ministry also issued a condemnation.
- The Bahrain foreign ministry said in a statement that the position of Bahrain was to oppose all forms of violence and terrorism. Urgent practical steps needed to be taken, said the statement, to put a stop to the dangerous escalation which claimed Palestinian and Israeli victims (Bahrain foreign ministry website, January 28, 2023).
 For further information see the January 29, 2023, bulletin, "Rise in tension and Palestinian reactions to the Israeli security force counterterrorism activities in the Jenin refugee camp." ↑