Gunman kills 5 in mass shooting spree in central Israel
A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire in a crowded city in central Israel late Tuesday, methodically gunning down victims as he killed at least five people in the second mass shooting rampage this week. The shooter was killed by police.
Israeli media said the attacker was a Palestinian from the West Bank. The previous two attacks, carried out by Arab citizens of Israel inspired by the Islamic State extremist group, have raised concerns of further violence.
Israeli authorities have not yet determined whether the string of attacks was organized or whether the attackers acted individually. The Israeli military announced it would be deploying additional troops to the West Bank, and the police chief raised the national readiness level to its highest.
Amateur video footage aired on Israeli television appeared to show the gunman in a black shirt armed with an assault rifle stopping a moving vehicle and shooting the driver. Another showed him chasing a cyclist, with the gun appearing to jam as he tried to fire.
Tuesday’s shootings occurred at two locations in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city just east of Tel Aviv. Police said a preliminary investigation found the gunman was armed with an assault rifle and opened fire on passersby before he was shot by officers at the scene.
The Magen David Adom paramedic service confirmed that five people were killed. Police said one of the victims was a police officer who arrived at the scene and engaged the shooter.
Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that the security forces “will work with all means to return security to Israeli streets and the feeling of security to civilians.”
Israeli media reported that the suspected gunman was a 27-year-old Palestinian man from the northern West Bank town of Yabad. Police did not immediately provide information about the suspect.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, saying the killing of Israeli or Palestinian 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.”
He said the violence “confirms that permanent, comprehensive and just peace is the shortest way to provide security and stability for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.”
No Palestinian groups immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas praised the “heroic operation,” but stopped short of claiming responsibility. Mosques in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip blared with “God is Great” cries celebrating the attack.
Israel in recent weeks has been taking steps aimed at calming tensions and avoiding a repeat of last year, when clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators in Jerusalem boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas.
But the new wave of violence is greatly complicating those efforts.
On Sunday, a pair of gunmen killed two young police officers during a shooting spree in the central city of Hadera, and last week, alone assailant killed four people in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba.