Israel mass shooting: Palestinian gunman kills five near Tel Aviv amid spree of attacks

Local reports said the attacker, who was shot dead by police, was a Palestinian from the West Bank

5 killed in Bnei Brak terror attack, with shooter neutralized

At least five people were killed by a gunman on a motorcycle who opened fire late on Tuesday in the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak.

Local reports said that the attacker was a 26-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank, becoming the third Arab assailant to launch an attack in the past week alone ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The shootings occurred at two locations in the city just east of Tel Aviv.

Video footage on Israeli television showed the gunman in a black shirt armed with an assault rifle stopping a moving vehicle and shooting the driver.

The gunman was also seen chasing a cyclist, with the gun appearing to jam as he tried to fire in another video.

The previous two attacks, carried out by Arab citizens of Israel and said to be inspired by the Isis terror group, have raised concerns of further violence.

After Tuesday’s attack, prime minister Naftali Bennett held an emergency meeting with top security officials and planned a meeting of his Security Cabinet on Wednesday.

In a statement, Mr Bennett said that Israel “stands before a wave of murderous Arab terrorism”.

Mr Bennett said that his government would combat it “with perseverance, stubbornness and an iron fist”.

On Wednesday, authorities identified three of the five victims, including two fathers and a police officer who helped kill the gunman, reported The Times of Israel.

The victims were named as 32-year-old officer Amir Khoury, Yaakov Shalom, 36, and Avishai Yehezkel, 29.

Police said the two other victims were Ukrainian nationals but did not release further details.

Authorities said that Mr Khoury served on the Bnei Brak police station’s motorcyclist responders team.

He was part of a team of two motorcycle officers who caught up with the gunman and killed him, bringing an end to the shooting spree.

Mr Shalom, a Bnei Brak resident, was driving home when he was stopped by the gunman, who then opened fire on his vehicle from close range.

The third victim, Mr Yehezkel, was identified as a Yeshiva student, who had taken his two-year-old son for an evening walk in his stroller.

Authorities said that he was shot while trying to protect the child.

The gunman has been identified as Diaa Hamarsheh, 26, a Palestinian from the town of Ya’bad near Jenin in the West Bank.

Authorities said that he had arrived in Bnei Brak in a vehicle and disembarked on Jabotinsky Street at 7.56 pm, reported Israel's Channel 13.

He first pulled out his rifle outside a store and tried to fire at passersby but barely missed a pedestrian and another man on a cycle.

Hamarsheh then moved to Bialik Street, but did not find anyone there.

He subsequently went to a nearby grocery store where he shot dead the two Ukrainian nationals.

He then continued his shooting spree and killed Mr Shalom who was passing by in his car.

He proceeded to Herzl Street where he shot Mr Yehezkel.

Two officers including Mr Khoury then confronted him on motorcycles. While Mr Khoury was shot, Hamarsheh was shot dead by the other police officer.

Police said on Wednesday that Hamarsheh’s brother had been arrested after raids on their West Bank home.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack in a statement and said that the killing of 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”.

In a statement, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh welcomed the attack.

“We are proud of the Palestinian people and the free people of the nation in the face of the heroic attack that struck all of Israel,” he said.

Tuesday's attack is the third in a week as a new wave of violence continues.

On Sunday, a pair of gunmen killed two young police officers during a shooting in the central city of Hadera.

Last week, a lone assailant killed four people in a car ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba.

Additional reporting by agencies

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