Israel-Palestine war: Israelis killed in attack at Jerusalem bus station
The gunmen, two brothers from the Tzur Baher neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, were shot dead after two off-duty Israeli soldiers and a civilian fired at them.
Security footage shows the men getting out of a white car to shoot at people waiting for a bus, before being gunned down themselves.
Israel’s Shin Bet security agency identified them as Murad and Ibrahim Nemr, aged 38 and 30. The agency claims the men were affiliated with Hamas.
Both Murad and Ibrahim served prison sentences in Israel. According to Haaretz, Murad was imprisoned from 2010 to 2020 for “offences including aiding the enemy during wartime, contact with a foreign agent, and membership in a terrorist organisation”. Ibrahim was arrested in 2014 for “terrorist-related actions”.
The attack came shortly after the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas was extended for an additional day in Gaza, as captives from both sides continue to be released.
Egyptian and Qatari negotiators are also reportedly pushing for a new two-day extension to the truce in Gaza along with more prisoner releases and an increase in the delivery of humanitarian aid, a statement from Egypt's state media body said on Thursday.
More captives released
In the latest release, Hamas handed over two Israeli women held captive in Gaza to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City on Thursday, according to a Palestinian official.
Israeli authorities named the women as Mia Schem, 21, and Amit Sosana, 40. Schem also holds French nationality.
Meanwhile, 17 Thai workers abducted from southern Israel on 7 October and released by Hamas as part of a truce deal returned home on Thursday.
Since the truce began, a total of 23 Thais have been freed by Hamas. Nine Thai workers remain in Gaza.
Uthai Saengnuan, who represents the Thai nationals held in Gaza, told reporters that he was grateful to return home and said he mourns the loss of his fellow workers killed during the 7 October attack.
"I'm saddened that my 39 fellow workers who died and would like everybody to take a moment to mourn their loss," said Saengnuan.
"I would like to thank the Israeli and Thai authorities who helped us ... and hope that the others will come back."
A Thai Muslim group that held direct talks with Hamas said their efforts were crucial in securing the early release of Thai hostages.
On the first day of the truce, 10 Thai hostages were released without condition.
Before the war, around 30,000 Thai labourers worked in the agriculture sector, making them one of Israel's largest migrant workforces.
Since then, 9,000 Thais have been repatriated
Arming Israeli civilians
The current war in Gaza started when a Hamas-led assault on Israel killed around 1,200 Israelis on 7 October. In response, Israel has relentlessly bombed and invaded the Palestinian enclave, killing at least 15,000 Palestinians, including 6,150 children.
The conflict’s spillover to other parts of the region led to increased tensions in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
The Israeli army and settlers have killed at least 229 Palestinians in the West Bank since 7 October.
The Israeli government is handing out weapons to civilians in response to the attack by Hamas-led Palestinian fighters.
In response to the Jerusalem attacks on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government will “continue to expand the distribution of weapons to citizens”.
At the site of the incident, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said: “This event proves again how we must not show weakness, that we must speak to Hamas only through [rifle] scopes, only through war.”
Blinken in Israel
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken used a visit on Thursday to Israel to call on Israeli forces to ensure the safety of Palestinian civilians in southern Gaza.
Blinken's spokesperson, Matthew Miller, said he had met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank.
"The secretary stressed the imperative of accounting for humanitarian and civilian protection needs in southern Gaza before any military operations there," Miller said.
Following the meeting, Netanyahu's office posted a statement reaffirming Israel's intention to wipe out Hamas from Gaza.
Speaking with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Blinken said: "We have seen over the last week the very positive development of hostages coming home, being reunited with their families.
"And that should continue today. It's also enabled an increase in humanitarian assistance to go to innocent civilians in Gaza who need it desperately," Blinken said.
Meanwhile, Israel summoned Spain's ambassador to Tel Aviv for a reprimand after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez questioned whether Israel was respecting international humanitarian law in Gaza.
On Thursday, Sanchez told Spanish state-owned broadcaster TVE: "The footage we are seeing and the growing numbers of children dying, I have serious doubt [Israel] is complying with international humanitarian law."
He added: "What we are seeing in Gaza is not acceptable."