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Gunman kills 5 in central Israel

March 29, 2022

A gunman killed several people before being shot dead. It is the most recent in a spate of deadly attacks in Israel.

Israeli security and medical personnel secure the scene of an attack in which people were killed by a gunman on a main street in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv
The attack happened in a traditionally ultra-orthodox Jewish townImage: Nir Elias/REUTERS

A gunman killed at least five people in an attack in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, on Tuesday, paramedics said.

A video broadcast on Israeli TV showed a man in black with an assault rifle walking around the ultra-Orthodox Jewish town.

Witnesses said he shot at balconies, people on the street and a car. Ambulance spokesperson Zaki Heller said that the "terrorist was liquidated." It was not immediately clear who shot him.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz cited police who said the assailant was a 26-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank. They added that he had been arrested in 2013 and served a six-month sentence.

People gather at the scene of an attack in which people were killed by a gunman on a main street in Bnei Brak
Israel has been rocked by a string of deadly attacks in recent daysImage: Nir Elias/REUTERS

How did Israeli authorities respond?

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened an emergency meeting with top security officials on Tuesday. He pledged to combat terrorism "with perseverance, stubbornness and an iron fist."

The attack comes after the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) claimed responsibility for the killing of two people in the Israeli city of Hadera on Sunday. Just last week a man killed four people in a stabbing spree in the Negev desert.

The Times of Israel reported that the total of 11 victims killed in the recent attacks constitute the highest number of people killed in such a period within the country since the suicide bombing of a bus in 2006 killed 11 people. 

A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned against a "spiral of violence" in Israel in a statement. The US condemned Tuesday's "terrorist attack" in Bnei Brak, calling the violence "unacceptable."

Earlier on Tuesday, police carried out raids on at least 12 Arab-Israeli homes. The assailants in the previous two attacks were both Israeli citizens. Before the raids, Bennett called the rise in violence a "new situation."

At least 5 killed in shooting near Tel Aviv

Law enforcement officials said 31 homes and sites were searched overnight in northern Israel.

Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, saying the killing of Israeli civilians "only leads to further deterioration of the situation and instability, which we all strive to achieve, especially as we are approaching the holy month of Ramadan and Christian and Jewish holidays." 

Islamist militant group Hamas praised the attack but did not claim responsibility for it.

Who is behind the attacks?

It was not yet clear who was responsible for Tuesday's shooting, but IS claimed responsibility for the two previous incidents. The death toll over the past few days marks a recent high point for terrorist attacks.

Israeli officials said the Islamic holy month of Ramadan was set to begin on Saturday evening.

In 2021, tensions following the attempted eviction of a Palestinian family from a Jerusalem neighborhood sparked clashes with police, which eventually spilled over into an 11-day war that left 243 Palestinians dead and 12 people in Israel.

Sunday's attack also coincided with a regional summit held in Israel, which saw representatives from several Arab states that recently normalized relations with the country come together. 

Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates condemned Sunday's attack while at the regional summit.

ab/nm (Reuters, AP)

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