1st Jerusalem terror attack victims named as couple who ran to help those shot
TOI STAFF and EMANUEL FABIAN
Eli, 48, and Natali Mizrahi, 45, were married for just 2 years; Eli’s father says they were eating dinner when they heard gunfire, went to help; 5 other fatalities not yet named” Eli and Natali Mizrahi, killed in Jerusalem terror attack on January 27, 2023 (Courtesy)
Two of the seven people shot and killed in a terror shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Neve Ya’akov neighborhood were named Saturday as couple Eli and Natali Mizrahi.
Eli’s father, Shimon, said the pair had gone outside to try and help those who had been shot, and were killed by the terrorist at point-blank range.
Eli, 48, and 45-year-old Natali had been married for just two years.
“We were in the middle of our meal, and there were several shots and my son jumped up. We yelled at him, ‘Don’t go anywhere,’” Shimon said.
“It seems that he was speaking with the terrorist, who pulled out a gun and killed him. [Eli] and his wife were murdered,” Shimon said. ‘[The terrorist] was standing next to his car and he shot them. He got into the car and fled.”
The other five victims killed when the terrorist opened fire on Friday evening were not immediately named.
Members of Zaka Rescue and Recovery team check a body after a terror shooting attack near a synagogue in Jerusalem, Jan. 27, 2023 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
At least three others were wounded — Hadassah’s Mount Scopus Hospital said Saturday morning that a 15-year-old boy injured in the attack was now fully conscious and his condition defined as moderate.
However, a 24-year-old remained sedated on a ventilator. His condition was serious but stable. In addition, a 60-year-woman was also in moderate condition.
Police said Saturday that 42 people were arrested in connection with the attack, many of them relatives or acquaintances of the terrorist, Alqam Khayri, 21, a resident of East Jerusalem with no prior terror-related offenses.
Palestinian media said the gunman’s father was among those summoned by police for questioning.
21-year-old Alqam Khayri, the suspected gunman in a Jerusalem terror shooting January 27, 2023, that killed seven people, is seen in an undated photo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque (Social media)
Police said Saturday that the national alert level was raised to the highest level, as security forces were bolstered across Israel and the West Bank in the wake of the attack.
IDF chief Herzi Halevi issued instructions to increase forces in the West Bank and along its security barrier, and to prepare for a potential escalation in the region.
Senior police officials told the Kan public broadcaster they would increase forces across the country, especially in Jerusalem.
Police have also said they were concerned about possible “price tag” revenge attacks against Arabs.
According to police, Khayri arrived by car at 8:13 p.m. at a synagogue in the East Jerusalem neighborhood and opened fire at people outside the building and other passersby.
He is believed to have waited outside the synagogue and opened fire on worshipers as they walked out.
He then fled the scene by car toward the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina — several hundred meters away — where, about five minutes later, he encountered officers who were called to the scene.
Police said Khayri was shot dead after he exited the car and opened fire on the officers while trying to escape on foot.
A handgun used in the attack was seized.
The gun used by a terrorist in a shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood, January 27, 2023. (Israel Police)
Security officials told the Walla news site on Saturday that Khayri had shown relatively advanced shooting skills during the attack, and an investigation was underway to examine whether he had received weapons training, and if others had therefore known about the attack in advance.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, police commissioner Kobi Shabtai said the attack was one of the worst Israel had seen in years.
“The terrorist shot at everyone he encountered. He got out of the car and began a murderous rampage with a handgun,” Shabtai said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking after visiting the scene, called the attack “one of the most severe we have known in years.”
“Our hearts are with the families. I commend the police officers who took action so quickly,” Netanyahu said. “We must act with determination and composure. I call on people not to take the law into their own hands.”
He said the cabinet would convene later on Saturday, adding, “We have decided on several immediate steps that will begin tonight.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the scene of a deadly terror shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who is in charge of police, arrived at the scene of the attack, was briefed by police officers, and later accompanied Netanyahu when the prime minister arrived. Citizens at the scene shouted various comments at the minister; some called out “Death to terrorists.”
“It’s on your watch!” one man cried. “Let’s see what you do now.”
Celebrations were held by some in the Gaza Strip and in several Palestinian cities in the West Bank following the deadly attack.
With seven killed, the shooting in Jerusalem was the deadliest terror attack since 2011, when terrorists crossed into Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing eight Israelis. It was the deadliest Palestinian terror attack since 2008, when a gunman from East Jerusalem killed eight Israeli students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the capital.
Friday’s deadly attack came following days of violence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Tensions have increased dramatically since Thursday morning, when an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank against a terrorist cell left nine Palestinians dead — most of them gunmen and members of the cell, though at least one civilian was also killed.
The IDF said Thursday’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp was necessary to foil imminent attack plans by a local Islamic Jihad terror cell. The group had primed explosives and firearms, according to the IDF.
Hamas praised Friday’s attack as a response to Thursday’s IDF operation, but no terror group took responsibility for it.
Thursday overnight saw rocket fire from Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and Israeli retaliatory air strikes, though both sides appeared intent on avoiding an escalation into a full-scale war.
Tensions were also high in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount on Friday, though Muslim prayers proceeded without issue.
AFP contributed to this report.