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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Jewish Students Shot in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM -- Gunmen crouching behind a low wall sprayed two Jewish seminary students with automatic fire in an alley in Jerusalem's Old City early Thursday, killing one and wounding the other. The assailants, believed to be Palestinian militants, hit one student in the leg and pumped six more bullets into him as he lay wounded on the ground, killing him. The second student, who was seriously hurt, ran several hundred meters until he found Israeli border policemen and was taken to a hospital.


The shooting was likely to increase tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. It could also complicate renewed U.S. efforts to break the deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Israel has said it would not make any concessions to the Palestinians until they made a more serious effort to fight terrorism.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "the murderous attack in Jerusalem is very serious and intolerable." He convened key Cabinet ministers and decided to set up another small police post in the Old City and to beef up patrols.


Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, a senior member of Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party, demanded that Israel suspend peace talks with the Palestinians, which had only resumed in September after months of crisis.


"The Palestinians are not fighting terrorism," Olmert said. "And the fact is that we are continuing with the negotiations. The result is that we are creating an atmosphere in which such things [like the attack] can happen and no one will pay the price."


As Olmert spoke to reporters, he was greeted by a group of 52 pilgrims from Las Vegas. "You are not gambling here [with your safety]," Olmert told the visitors. "We have enough security for you."


The pilgrims said they were not afraid. "Because of the amount of security here today, this is probably the safest place in Jerusalem," said Pastor John Michaels.


There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.


The incident began at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday when the two seminary students walked from their school to their nearby dormitory, passing through a narrow alley in the Moslem Quarter.


One or more assailants were crouched behind a low wall in the alley and opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle when the two approached, police said.


The first student was hit in the leg and fell to the ground when the assailants fired six more bullets into him to kill him. The victim was identified as Gabriel Hirschberg, 26, who immigrated from Hungary eight years ago.


The second student was struck by three bullets, but managed to flee, running to the house of Infrastructures Minister Ariel Sharon, which is guarded day and night by paramilitary border police. At Sharon's home, the wounded man was treated by paramedics and taken to Hadassah Hospital.


Police detained several residents of the Moslem Quarter, and stopped passersby for identity checks.


The two victims studied at Ateret Cohanim, a seminary partially funded by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz. Ateret Cohanim has been leading a drive to settle Jews in the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.