By Erin Viner
Two of the victims sustained severe wounds and the others were in moderate condition in the early hours of Sunday, as Jews were leaving the area after performing prayers at the holy site marking the end of the Sabbath.
In addition, a baby is in serious but stable condition after being delivered in an emergency C-section following the shooting of the mother in her abdomen.
Four of the those shot in the pre-dawn attack on Ma’ale HaShalom Street near the Zion Gate were members of the same family visiting from Williamsburg, New York.
“We condemn terror and stand with the Israeli people as they seek peace,” tweeted New York Governor Kathy Hochul, emphasizing that “I’m horrified by the terror attack in Jerusalem, and by the news that a family of New Yorkers has been impacted.”
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides also issued a statement on Twitter expressing deep sadness, writing that he “strongly condemn[s] the terrorist attack outside the Old City of Jerusalem” and that he is “praying for a quick recovery for all of the innocent victims.”
Israeli security forces were at the scene within minutes and were engaged in pursuit all night, in cooperation with the Israeli Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet). Israel National Counter-Terrorism Unit and police forces.
Following an all-night manhunt, assailant Amir Sidawi surrendered to Israeli security authorities Sunday morning. The Arab resident of Jerusalem, who was still in possession of the weapon, has a criminal past. He has no known terrorist affiliation.
The Western Wall, located the Temple Mount in the Old City, is considered by the Jewish People as the holiest site in the world. The holy site is also revered to Christians; and regarded as Islam’s third most sacred site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Israel regards the entirety of of Jerusalem as its eternal capital and the center of the Jewish faith, while Palestinians demand that the city serve as capital of their aspired-future state.
Following an assessment on the situation with Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev and Police Commissioner Yaakov “Kobi” Shabtai, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that security in the Jerusalem District will be significantly reinforced.
“There is one conclusion from this incident, as from previous incidents: Whoever harms Israeli citizens has nowhere to hide. We will pursue them, find them wherever they are, and deal with them to the fullest extent of the law,” stressed the Israeli leader.
He went on to affirm that “Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is safe, strong and open to tourists and residents alike” as “police and the IDF are working to restore the quiet and the feeling of safety in the city.”
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion proclaimed that the city “is stronger than any event and we will not allow any terrorist to harm the routine of life in the public space. The capital of Israel will continue to be a city full of life, happy and vibrant.”
The last terror attack in the city was last month when a Palestinian stabbed a Jewish man in his 40s aboard a public bus near the Ramot Junction.
The ‘courageous act of resistance’ was “a natural response to the occupation and the settlers and their daily crimes against [Palestinians],” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, pledging that, Israeli security measures in Jerusalem will not weaken the Palestinians’ resolve or break their will but will “constitute the greatest motivation for the resistance to escalate and develop the tools of resistance” against Israel.
Hamas official Yassin Rabi’a said the attack proves that Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians.
“Jerusalem will remain ours, and we will continue to fight until the liberation of our land, notwithstanding the cost and sacrifices,” he threatened.
PIJ Spokesman Tareq Ezzadin said the attack came in the context of the “continuing resistance” against Israel.
“The Jerusalem operation confirms that the occupation has no place on our land, and it will not feel safe as long as the resistance continues,” he said. “The occupation must pay the price for its continuing crimes against our people, from Gaza to Jenin and Nablus.”
Ezzadin hailed the timing of the attack, pointing out that it came just one week after the Operation Breaking Dawn conflict between Israel and the PIJ, in the worst outbreak of hostilities in more than a year.
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group also claimed that the the Jerusalem attack confirms that “the resistance of our people continues in all forms and throughout the occupied Palestinian land” and “as a natural response from our people to the escalating crimes of the occupation.”
Other Palestinian terrorist groups said the attack dealt a “severe blow” to the Israeli security apparatus and vowed to increase further terrorist attacks in the future.
United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland denounced the attack and wishing the wounded a speedy recovery.
“It is deplorable that Palestinian factions continue to glorify such attacks, which undermine the possibility of a peaceful future for both Palestinians and Israelis,” he wrote in a Twitter message, adding, “I urge all to condemn violence and stand up to terror.”