Fatal shootings in central Tel Aviv kill two as police say there are “signs” of a terrorist attack

The attacker opened fire in a crowded restaurant area in downtown Tel Aviv on Thursday night, killing at least two people and injuring several others before fleeing to a dense residential area, Israeli authorities said.

Police said there were “signs” that it was a politically motivated attack – the fourth fatal attack in Israel in less than three weeks amid escalating Israeli-Palestinian tensions. The militant group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack but did not take responsibility.

A few hours after the shooting, the armed suspect remained at large. Hundreds of Israeli police, dog training units and army special forces conducted a mass hunt in central Tel Aviv, searching building after building in densely populated residential areas.

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Security forces aimed at the site of the shooting on Disenhof Street in the center of the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on April 7, 2022.

JACK GUEZ / AFP via Getty Images


Tel Aviv Police Commander Amihai Eshel said the shooter opened fire at a crowded bar around 9pm and then fled.

“Our working assumption is that he is still nearby,” he told reporters. “At the moment there are indications that this is a terrorist attack, but I have to be very sensitive to that and say that we are also checking other witnesses.”

The Israeli emergency service Magen David Adom reported that two men aged about 30 were killed. Seven more people are injured, three of them seriously.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with senior security officials on Thursday, and they agreed to “continue to send large-scale reinforcements to Tel Aviv,” his office said in a statement.

At least one shooting took place on Dizengoff Street, the central highway. For years, Dizengoff Street was the scene of several deadly attacks. On Thursday night, at the beginning of the Israeli weekend, the popular nightlife area was filled.

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A woman responds to a shooting scene in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 7, 2022. Israeli police said several people were injured in a shooting in central Tel Aviv.

Ariel Shalit / AP


Television footage shows armed officers running down Dizengoff Street and side streets, trying to track down the attacker, according to Reuters.

Police spokesman Eli Levy said the “terrorist opened fire at close range and then fled on foot,” according to Reuters. He told residents of nearby areas not to leave their homes. “Don’t stick your head out the window. Stay away from the balconies,” Levy said on Channel 13.

“It’s an atmosphere of war. Soldiers and police are everywhere … They’ve searched the restaurant, and people are crying,” said restaurant employee Benjamin Bloom.

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Israeli security and rescue services are working at the entrance to the restaurant after the incident in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 7, 2022.

STRINGER / REUTERS


Tensions were high after a series of attacks by Palestinian attackers, killing 11 people on the eve of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, which began almost a week ago.

Last month, a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire in a city in central Israel, killed five people. A few days earlier, a pair of gunmen had killed two young police officers during a shooting in downtown Hadera, and a week earlier, a lone attacker had killed four people as a result of a car rampage and stabbing in the southern city of Beersheba.

Last year, protests and clashes during Ramadan sparked an 11-day war in Gaza.


An armed man killed five as a result of Israel’s latest deadly attack

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The leaders of Israel, Jordan and Palestine have held a series of meetings in recent weeks, and Israel has taken a number of steps to defuse tensions, including issuing thousands of additional work permits to Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.

Prior to the attack, Israel said it would allow women, children and men over the age of 40 from the occupied West Bank to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem on Friday, the first weekly prayers in Ramadan. Tens of thousands were expected to come.

The mosque is the third holy place in Islam and is located on top of a hill which is the holiest place for the Jews who call it the Temple Mount. The holy place has long been a fire of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East War. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future state. The last serious and substantial peace talks failed more than a decade ago, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett opposes Palestinian statehood.

Israel has annexed East Jerusalem, which is not recognized internationally and considers the entire city its capital.

He withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but along with neighboring Egypt imposed a harsh blockade of the territory after two years later a militant group Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces. Since then, Israel and Hamas have waged four wars.

The recent attacks appear to have been carried out by lone attackers, possibly with the help of accomplices. No Palestinian militant group has taken them away, although Hamas welcomes the attacks.

Hamas spokesman Abdelatif al-Kanu said late Thursday that “the heroic attack on the heart of the (Israeli) entity has dealt a blow to the Zionist security system and proved the ability of our people to harm the occupation.”

Israel says the conflict stems from the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize its existence as a Jewish state and partly blames the attacks on incitement on social media. Palestinians say such attacks are the inevitable result of nearly 55 years of military occupation that show no signs of ending.

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