JERUSALEM (JTA) — The U.S. State Department strongly condemned a terrorist attack in Jerusalem that left two people dead.
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack that took place today in Jerusalem, which resulted in the death of two Israelis and injured several others. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and our hopes for a quick and full recovery for those wounded,” said the statement issued Sunday afternoon by Marc Toner, deputy State Department spokesman.
“There is absolutely no justification for the taking of innocent lives. We also condemn the statements glorifying this reprehensible and cowardly attack.”
The statement came hours after the Palestinian assailant shot and killed at least one person at the Ammunition Hill light rail station in northern Jerusalem, and then continued his shooting spree as police pursued him. Officers ultimately shot and killed the assailant.
A 39-year-old resident of eastern Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, he been expected to report to an Israeli prison Sunday at the time of the shooting attack to serve a four-month sentence for assaulting a police officer in 2013.
He reportedly had been known to Israel Police as a suspected terrorist and member of Hamas for several years. He previously spent a year in jail for incitement in Facebook posts, including some which said: “We sacrifice our souls and our blood for you Al-Aqsa,” and, “we sacrifice our children for Al-Aqsa.”
He told the Palestinian Maan news agency in an interview Saturday night that he would turn himself into the Israeli Ramla prison at 10 a.m. Sunday, the time that he started the attack. “Jerusalem is under a serious threat of ‘Judaization’ and is under an unprecedented attack by the Israeli authorities,” he said in the phone interview.
The United Nations Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov also condemned the attack in a statement issued Sunday.
“I condemn this morning’s terror attack by a Palestinian perpetrator in occupied East Jerusalem which killed two Israelis and injured six others. Nothing can justify such attacks. My thoughts are with the families and friends of all victims and I hope for a full and speedy recovery of the wounded,” he said in the statement.
“It is deplorable and unacceptable that Hamas and others choose to glorify such acts which undermine the possibility of a peaceful future for both Palestinians and Israelis.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also condemned the attack Sunday, tweeting: “I strongly condemn today’s attack in Jerusalem and my prayers go to the victims’ families. The terrorists must be brought to justice. -H”