Young schoolchildren screamed in horror today as Palestinian gunmen killed the nine-year-old son of a senior Palestinian intelligence officer in a drive-by shooting on a busy street, an unprecedented attack at a time of heightened tension between rival militias.
Palestinian hospital officials say four people were killed, including three children of the intelligence officer and their driver, but this was not immediately confirmed.
The confirmed dead boy was identified as Osama Balousheh, son of intelligence officer Baha Balousheh, a loyalist of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
A decade ago, Mr Balousheh was one of the lead interrogators in a crackdown on the now-ruling Islamic militant Hamas movement.
The shooting attack took place in a street lined with nine schools. The gunmen pumped dozens of bullets into the car Osama Balousheh was riding in, Palestinian security officials said. The driver was seriously wounded. The boy’s father was not in the area.
In all, seven people were wounded, including two adults and five children, all in serious condition.
As the shots rang out, children dropped to the ground or fled, screaming.
“I was walking with my young brother, Wael, who is nine, and we just crossed the street in order to take him to the school when shooting took place,” said 12-year-old Fadwa Nabulsi, still shaken by the bloody scene.
“We saw fire coming from one car. We started screaming and children started running. I was crying, and I lost Wael for about half an hour. Then I found him hiding in a felafel shop. I’m trying to find my father to take us back home,” she said.
Dozens of Palestinian police in the area where trying to calm the children and help them locate their parents.