2 policemen wounded in J'lem shooting

Suspect shot at group near Lion's Gate; perpetrator not yet apprehended; Dichter: No new intifada.

lions gate police 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
lions gate police 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
Two police officers were shot and seriously wounded late Friday night near the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, police and rescue officials said. The suspected Palestinian assailant, who opened fire with a handgun on the security officials at close range under cover of darkness, fled the scene. It came just a week after an Arab resident of east Jerusalem went on a rampage with a bulldozer, killing three people before being shot dead. The Shabbat eve attack, which was captured by security cameras, took place at around 11:30 p.m. when the assailant snuck up on the two security officials posted at the site and caught them by surprise, shooting them in the head and chest. A Border Police officer who was shot in the head slumped to the ground, while his wounded colleague returned fire at the attacker who managed to flee through a nearby Muslim cemetery, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. The attacker was apparently not hit by the police fire. Hidden by the darkness, the face of the assailant was not captured by the security camera in the area. The Border Police officer, David Shriki from Rishon Lezion, was fighting for his life at Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem on Saturday, where his condition had deteriorated to critical overnight, while his colleague, Jerusalem police officer Imad Gadir from Kfar Zarzir, who was less gravely wounded, was recuperating in the city's Shaare Zedek Hospital. The attack - the sixth since the beginning of the year in the city - came amid heightened Israeli concern over the increasing involvement of east Jerusalem Arabs, who make up a third of the city's 750,000 residents, in Palestinian terrorism. It was not immediately clear Saturday whether the attacker was a resident of Jerusalem or the West Bank. Unlike Palestinians in the West Bank, Arab residents of east Jerusalem enjoy freedom of movement throughout the city and the West Bank, access which is often exploited by Palestinian terror groups. In March, an Arab resident of east Jerusalem shot and killed eight young students at the city's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. Both Israel Police chief Dudi Cohen and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said that the recent attacks were not connected. "We don't see a connection between these events," Cohen said. "At the moment, it was an isolated event." "It is hard to find a link between the last three attacks in the capital, but the matter will be investigated," Dichter said after visiting the Jerusalem hospitals where the two police officers were being treated. He added that police would also be investigating how the attacker managed to catch the two security officials by surprise. As police searched for the assailant both in and around the city, the area of the attack was sealed off on Saturday, and police heightened their presence in the Old City.