Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip praised the operation in a statement, and thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza to celebrate. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the shooting. But Regev said the Palestinian government must take steps against the extremists — not just denounce their attacks.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who only on Wednesday persuaded Abbas to return to peace talks with Israel, called the attack an "act of terror and depravity."
Israeli defense officials said the attacker came from east Jerusalem, the predominantly Palestinian section of the city. Jerusalem's Palestinians have Israeli ID cards that give them freedom of movement in Israel, unlike Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
The seminary shooting was the first major attack by Palestinian militants in Jerusalem since a suicide bomber killed eight people on Feb. 22, 2004. There have been several attacks since then, and police and the military say they have foiled many other attempts. Militants have also hit other targets in Israel. Thursday's shooting was the deadliest incident in Israel since a suicide bomber killed 11 people in Tel Aviv on April 17, 2006.
Between 2001 and 2004, at the height of Palestinian-Israeli fighting, Jerusalem was a frequent target of Palestinian attacks, including suicide bombings on buses.