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The Israeli immigrant was shot in the head and chest in the attack near south-east Jerusalem, which Jerusalem’s public safety minister said was the work of a well-trained terrorist. “It appears to be a sniper operation,” Ron Dermer said.
The gunman took a hostage in the Middle East, the Syrian National Army said on Twitter. The NSC said the assailant was trying to infiltrate Jordan and kidnap a senior NSC officer in order to take him hostage and trade him for prisoners held by Israel.
Israeli forces are combing the area around a bus stop and surrounding buildings for the gunman, who was described as male in his mid-20s wearing a black shirt and blue pants. Reports have said he had a black armband on, although security sources could not confirm this.
After taking the hostage, the gunman pulled out a pistol and opened fire on the Israelis, killing David Potemra, 45, who was taking a bus from Tel Aviv.
An eyewitness told the Israeli news site Ynet that the gunman shouted “Allahu Akbar” – God is greatest – before the attack.
A video taken in the immediate aftermath of the attack appears to show a witness walking up to a wounded soldier, shouting and trying to administer first aid.
Shots were also heard around a bus, but it is not clear who fired them.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN: “This is the work of a terrorist. He’s fired at buses and wounded people and killed someone, so a terrorist attack.”
“We’ll make absolutely clear that we’ll do everything in our power to prevent terror activities in Jerusalem.”
Netanyahu said at a security cabinet meeting on Sunday that the victim was “an honest man, a true friend of Israel and he had done good work on helping the poor and the homeless”.
He later visited Potemra’s family in Kfar Maimon. They described him as a loving father, a former bank worker, a rabbi and an ultra-Orthodox Jew who served in the Israeli army and ran the Kfar Maimon Orthodox kibbutz as well as local charities.
A relative told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “He was an exceptional man. He was an ordinary man and everyone loved him. He touched everyone’s life in a positive way and made everyone feel good.”
He is survived by a wife and three children.
“I am in great pain,” Potemra’s sister-in-law told a news channel. “He was my brother and now he is killed. I am at the moment looking for a way to organise everything and organise myself.”
Rachel Adato, the wife of Potemra’s brother, told Reuters that her family was too distraught to speak. She said: “There are different people who are affected. David is the oldest of the four boys. He was the one who was closest to God, always looking for the best. I’m really trying to be strong for my children and [my brother] Uri.”
After the first shots were heard, which were followed by more shots, security forces opened fire.
Gun battles followed as security forces surrounded the attack site and a soldier who had been in a nearby building was taken into custody by police.
Smoke rose from the area of the attack, with Palestinian factions and some social media reports saying the location of the attack was near a Jewish neighbourhood of Beit Safafa on Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah. Several gunshots were heard in that area, which is considered home to West Bank settlers.
Local sources said the location was in what is known as Beer Sheva – or Shechem – in the northern West Bank.
No Palestinians have yet been detained in connection with the attack. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said the attacker had been armed with a high-powered rifle, according to reports.
In December 2012, a Palestinian assailant murdered four American students from an Israel yeshiva during a shooting rampage.
Two American security guards were killed in November last year when gunmen opened fire on a car carrying them and their colleague at an Israeli army checkpoint north of Haifa, and the Gaza-based al-Qaida-inspired group Salafis claimed responsibility.
The identity of the gunmen, a 19-year-old from Gaza and a 41-year-