A Palestinian gunman, known to Israeli police for violence and incitement on social media, killed two Israelis and wounded several others while shooting a rifle from his car in Jerusalem.

The assailant, who could not be named due to a court order, died after motorcycle police opened fire on him.

At his first stop, a busy light rail station, the assailant shot Lehava Melihi, 60, killing her and wounding others.

He was then chased at high speed by police along the seamline that joins Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods of the city.

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As police officers on motorcycles closed in on him, he shot and killed one of them, Yosef Kirma, 29, before he was killed in turn.

Israeli media reported that the suspect had been set to enter an Israeli jail today after being convicted by an Israeli court several months ago. The Palestinian news website Maan said that in an interview with the shooter yesterday, he had said he would turn himself in to Israeli authorities.

In a recent article about extremist activity among Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Shaul Bartal, a former major in the Israeli military and lecturer in Middle Eastern studies, cited the assailant's Facebook page, where he displayed clear support for Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.

Immediately after the attack, Hamas released a statement saying that it mourned the death of its "son" and called his attack in Jerusalem "heroic".

The group confirmed that the assailant, from the neighbourhood of Silwan, was one of its "outstanding figures in Jerusalem".

Since October 2015, there has been a steady stream of stabbings, attempted stabbings, vehicular attacks and shootings by Palestinians against Israelis in both Israel and the West Bank. The attacks have left 38 Israelis, two US citizens, an Eritrean and 230 Palestinians dead. Israelis say the majority of Palestinians killed were carrying out attacks.

The violence tapered off during the northern summer months but two weeks ago there was a sudden uptick again.