Two dead and six injured in Jerusalem drive-by shooting

Israeli police stand guard at the scene of the shooting. Credit: Reuters

A drive-by shooting in Jerusalem has left a police officer and a pedestrian dead and six others injured.

The Palestinian assailant - identified as a 39-year-old from the east of the city - was shot dead in an exchange of fire with police after driving away from the scene of the shooting.

The victims were identified as Levana Malihi, a 60-year-old grandmother, and police sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29.

The incident, near Israeli national police headquarters, began when shots were fired from a car at people waiting at a tram stop.

Israeli police described it as a terrorist attack.

"When the terrorist spotted the police he fired at them, and they managed to shoot and kill him," a police spokesperson said.

Israeli media reported the gunman had previously served multiple sentences for violent acts and was due to report to prison on Sunday for another sentence over assaulting a police officer.

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Gaza's Islamic Hamas leaders, welcomed the attack in a statement saying it was "a natural response" to military occupation and dwindling hopes for occupation.

Hamas stopped short of taking responsibility for the attack but identified the assailant as one of its members.

Israel's internal security minister Gilad Erdan said there were no specific warnings of an attack ahead of time and the quick response of security forces on the scene prevented a deadlier result. He repeated a previous criticism of social media sites that allow militants to spread their messages of incitement.

"It has an impact. It pushes people out to the streets to commits acts of murder and terror," he said.