Israel will speed up applications for owning a gun in response to a shooting outside a synagogue on Jerusalem’s outskirts that claimed the lives of seven people on Friday.
The government’s Security Cabinet announced such measures on Saturday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to “strengthen” Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
“Firearm licensing will be expedited and expanded in order to enable thousands of additional citizens to carry weapons,” read a statement on Netanyahu’s official Facebook page.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir told reporters over the weekend: “When civilians have guns, they can defend themselves.”
Seven people were killed, and 10 were injured in the attack, Israel’s foreign ministry said.
Israeli police described it as a “terror attack” and said it took place at a synagogue in Neve Ya’akov, considered by Israelis as a neighborhood within Jerusalem, while Palestinians and most of the international community consider it occupied land illegally annexed after a 1967 Middle East war.
The gunman — identified as Khaire Alkam, a 21-year-old Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem — was shot dead as he attempted to flee.
The shooting occurred on the Jewish Sabbath and on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
It also came a day after the deadliest raid in the West Bank in years.
An Israeli raid in the West Bank on Thursday killed nine Palestinians, most of them terrorists. In response, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of rockets into Israel, triggering a series of Israeli airstrikes in response. In all, 32 Palestinians have been killed in fighting this month.
Early Sunday, the Israeli military said that security guards in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim had shot a Palestinian who was armed with a handgun and released a photo of what it said was the weapon.
On Saturday, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot at a group of Israeli civilians in Jerusalem, wounding two before one of them shot and wounded him.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israel and the Palestinians on Monday to ease tensions. The bloodshed has alarmed the Biden administration as it attempts to find common ground with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government.
Speaking on his arrival at Israel’s international airport near Tel Aviv after a brief visit to Egypt, Blinken said he had come at “a pivotal moment” and condemned Palestinian attacks that have targeted Israeli citizens but also called for restraint in response, saying that all civilian casualties are deplorable.
“To take an innocent life in an act of terrorism is always a heinous crime but to target people outside their place of worship is especially shocking,” he said, referring to the Friday synagogue attack.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.