Hamas gunmen opened fire on a bus stop during rush hour in Jerusalem on Thursday, killing three people and wounding six.
The terrorist group called for an “escalation of resistance” in the West Bank following the attack, which threatened to destabilise the precarious ceasefire in Gaza.
Two off-duty soldiers and an armed civilian intervened and shot dead the assailants.
Footage from a CCTV camera showed two men exit a white car and run towards the bus stop, shooting a handgun and an M-16.
One woman seems to be struck by a bullet in her thigh but still manages to run away, with the rest of the fleeing crowd.
Responding to the attack, an Israeli man gets out of a red car and fires his own gun at the assailants as they try to re-enter their vehicle.
Another Israeli approaches from the side, shooting what appears to be a handgun. Both attackers were shot dead at the scene.
Images from the bus stop later showed bodies lying on Weizman Boulevard, a main road leading into the city, as police searched the area.
Hamas on Thursday claimed responsibility for the shooting, citing recent deadly Israeli raids in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency identified the attackers as brothers Murad and Ibrahim Namr, Hamas members who had previously been jailed for terror offences.
The proscribed terror group said in a statement: “This operation is a natural response to the unprecedented crimes of the occupier in the Gaza Strip and against children in Jenin.”
An eight-year-old child was among four Palestinians killed on Wednesday during a major Israeli incursion into Jenin, a stronghold of Palestinian armed groups.
The attack did not prevent Hamas later releasing Israeli hostages, with the ceasefire holding until at least Friday morning.
Itamar Ben Gvir, Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultra Right-wing coalition partner, said the incident supported his policy of arming civilians.
“This event proves again how we must not show weakness, that we must speak to Hamas only through the [rifle] scopes, only through the war,” he said at the scene.
The two attackers “were neutralised on the scene shortly after the attack by two off-duty IDF soldiers and another civilian who fired at them”, police said.
“A police search of the terrorists’ car revealed ammunition and weaponry,” they said, adding that three of the wounded were in a serious condition.
Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, said the gunmen were probably from “sleeper cells” in the area.
“People just going about their day, waiting for the bus, got cruelly shot by two gunmen with long guns, indiscriminately, and the hospital is now full of injured as well,” she said.
The three people who died were identified in local media as 24-year-old Livia Dickman, Hanna Ifergan, a headteacher in Beit Shemesh said to be in her sixties, and Elimelech Wasserman, 73, who was a retired rabbinical judge.
Wasserman and Shemesh died of their wounds in the Shaare Zedek Hospital, while Dickman died at the scene.
The wounded are being treated in two hospitals in the Jerusalem area, with at least five people described in reports as having serious injuries.
Jack Lew, the US ambassador to Israel, condemned the shooting. “Abhorrent terrorist attack in Jerusalem this morning. We unequivocally condemn such brutal violence,” he said.
Thursday’s attack occurred at a bus stop where a bombing was carried out almost exactly one year ago, killing two Israelis and injuring 26 others.
The bomb was detonated around 7am on November 23, 30 minutes before a second was detonated at the Ramot junction on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Tensions have also risen sharply in the occupied West Bank following the Oct 7 attacks and bombardment of Gaza.
More than 240 Palestinians have been killed and at least 3,000 others injured, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
On Thursday, 45 Palestinians were detained by Israel following overnight raids in the West Bank. The majority were arrested during raids in Biddu, near Jerusalem.
It is thought that the total will rise as raids are ongoing in Tubas, Jericho, Bethlehem and Tulkarem.