Menachem Palace told N12, an Israeli TV station, that he still believed Israel was “the safest place in the world” despite being targeted in what the US State Department has labelled a “terror attack” on Sunday.
“The trip ends on Thursday and I plan to stay,” the 22-year-old resident of Brooklyn, New York, told the TV station, in comments reported on by COLive. “This is our land – the safest place in the world”.
The Crown Heights resident was among five US citizens confirmed wounded in a shooting on a bus near the Western Wall, a holy sight in Jerusalem popular with Jewish, Muslim and Christian pilgrims.
A group of worshippers had been returning from the Western Wall on Sunday morning when the bus driver said shots rang-out.
“We opened the ramp for someone on a wheelchair, and then the shooting started,” Daniel Kanyevsk told Israeli news outlets, according to ABC News. “Everyone got down on the floor, screaming. I tried to escape, but the bus couldn’t drive with the ramp open.”
A 30-year-old pregnant woman and a 60-year-old man were among the other victims and remain in critical condition, reports said.
Last night, a terrorist shot at a bus in Jerusalem wounding 8 people, including a pregnant 30 year old woman and a 60 year old man who are in critical care. We pray for their full recovery.
This attack on Israel's capital, a city sacred to all three religions, must be condemned. pic.twitter.com/1XAYZBVSe9
— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) August 14, 2022
“I didn’t feel anything,” Mr Palace told Israeli TV after being shot in the back. “Maybe it was the adrenaline. But they took an x-ray and saw there was a bullet. They performed minor surgery and Baruch Hashem everything is good. It was really a miracle.”
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting, Israeli authorities said the suspect later turned himself in. Israeli media reportedly identified the gunman as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem and no further information about the individual was released on Sunday.
The attack comes a week after 17 children were reported among the 49 civilians and several Palestinian fighters killed by Israel in airstrikes over the Gaza Strip, in what Israeli authorities said was aimed at preventing an imminent threat to Israel.
Deeply saddened to confirm that Americans were injured in this attack. I’ve spoken with the families and will keep them in my prayers. Continuing to monitor the situation.
— Ambassador Tom Nides (@USAmbIsrael) August 14, 2022
More than 1,000 rockets were fired by the militant Islamic Jihad Movement into Israeli in retaliation for the airstrikes, marking the worst hostilities between the two sides in a year.
In a statement on Sunday night, the US State Department said it “strongly condemns the terrorist attack” and confirmed that five US citizens, believed to be almost all from New York, were among the wounded.
Reports said the group had been visiting Israel as part of a trip organised by Birthright Israel, a charity that sponsors free trips for young adults of Jewish heritage to Israel.
Additional reporting by Reuters.