Old Jerusalem includes Muslims' Al-Aqsa mosque with the gold dome and the Western Wall for Judaism. Photo by Wayne McLean/Wikimedia Commons
Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Israeli police on Sunday fatally shot a Palestinian gunman who shot dead an Israeli man and wounded four others in Old Jerusalem, officials said.
Abu Shkhaydam, 42, of East Jerusalem was identified as a member of the Palestinian militant group Hamas who had opened fire near a gate to a compound in East Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. police said.
Hamas called the attack a "heroic operation."
Police shut down the Old City, fearing a copycat attack.
The victim was the first Israeli civilian to be killed by Palestinian violence since May's 11-day conflict with terror groups in the Gaza Strip when 12 died.
Eliyahu David Kay, 26, was a recent immigrant from South Africa who worked as a guide at the Western Wall and lived in Modiin. He was pronounced dead at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus.
One victim, Rabbi Zeev Katzenelnbogen, was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where his condition stabilized somewhat after emergency surgery, doctors said. Another man sustained moderate-to-severe injuries and was taken to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem.
Three others had minor injuries.
Three Israeli men were walking through the area as they left the nearby Western Wall, where they had been praying. They were still wrapped in prayer shawls and wearing tefillin, one of the victims, Katzenelnbogen said from his hospital bed.
Shkhaydam was armed with a Beretta M12 submachine gun and opened fire at the three men near the Chain Gate entrance to Temple Mount.
Two female police officers, rushed from one side of the alleyway, opened fire at Shkaydam. Two male officers then ran in to assist them.
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said the gunman "moved through the alleys and fired quite a bit. Luckily, the alley was mostly empty because otherwise - heaven forbid - there would have been more casualties. The entire incident lasted 32 or 36 seconds. The actions of the female officers was - operationally - at the highest possible level."
He said the weapon was likely smuggled in from somewhere.
Barlev said he was a member of Hamas's political branch who regularly prayed in the Old City.
"His wife fled abroad three days ago, and he used standard weapons that are not commonly available in Israel," Barlev said.
Shkhaydam had written in a Facebook post in Arabic: "God determines our destiny, but most people do not know. The question of our destiny is a question that God determines, God in His wisdom and greatness, He chooses whoever He wants and presents them to their destiny."
Hamas praised his actions.
"The message of the heroic operation is a warning to the criminal enemy and its government to stop the attacks on our land and our holy sites," Hamas said, adding Israel "will pay a price for the iniquities it commits against Al-Aqsa Mosque, Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah and elsewhere."
Barlev spoke with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
"This is the second terrorist attack in Jerusalem in recent days," Bennett said. "I have instructed the security forces to mobilize accordingly and demonstrate vigilance, also due to concern over copycat attacks," said Bennett.
The United States condemned the attack.
"We strongly condemn the terrorist attack today by a Hama gunman in Jerusalem's Old City," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. "We offer our condolences to the victims and their families."