(JTA) – The U.S. State Department strongly condemned a terrorist attack in Jerusalem that left two people dead.
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack that took place today in Jerusalem, which resulted in the death of two Israelis and injured several others,” said the statement issued Sunday afternoon by Marc Toner, deputy State Department spokesman. “We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and our hopes for a quick and full recovery for those wounded.
“There is absolutely no justification for the taking of innocent lives. We also condemn the statements glorifying this reprehensible and cowardly attack.”
The statement came hours after the Palestinian assailant shot and killed two at the Ammunition Hill light rail station in northern Jerusalem, and then continued his shooting spree as police pursued him. Officers ultimately shot and killed the assailant, who was later identified as Misbah Abu Sbeih, 39, of eastern Jerusalem.
Abu Sbeih, who lived in the Silwan neighborhood, had been expected to report to an Israeli prison Sunday at the time of the shooting attack to serve a four-month sentence for assaulting a police officer in 2013.
He reportedly had been known to Israel Police as a suspected terrorist and member of Hamas for several years. Abu Sbeih previously spent a year in jail for incitement in Facebook posts, including some that said “We sacrifice our souls and our blood for you Al-Aqsa,” and “we sacrifice our children for Al-Aqsa.”
The assailant told the Palestinian Maan news agency in an interview Saturday night that he would turn himself into the Israeli Ramla prison at 10 am Sunday, the time that he launched the attack.
“Jerusalem is under a serious threat of ‘Judaization’ and is under an unprecedented attack by the Israeli authorities,” he said in the phone interview.
The United Nations co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process also condemned the attack in a statement issued Sunday.
“I condemn this morning’s terror attack by a Palestinian perpetrator in occupied East Jerusalem which killed two Israelis and injured six others,” Nickolay Mladenov said in the statement. “Nothing can justify such attacks. My thoughts are with the families and friends of all victims and I hope for a full and speedy recovery of the wounded.
“It is deplorable and unacceptable that Hamas and others choose to glorify such acts which undermine the possibility of a peaceful future for both Palestinians and Israelis.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also condemned the attack Sunday, tweeting: “I strongly condemn today’s attack in Jerusalem and my prayers go to the victims’ families. The terrorists must be brought to justice. -H” Donald Trump, her Republican rival for the nomination, also later condemned the attack.