Israel mass shooting: Everything we know about the deadly attack in Bnei Brak

Country suffers third fatal outbreak of violence in a week as regional tensions escalate ahead of holy month

Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 30 March 2022 12:33
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Five killed in Bnei Brak terror attack

Israel has suffered its third deadly attack in the space of a week after a gunman on a motorcycle killed five people in the city of Bnei Brak, east of Tel Aviv, on Tuesday evening.

Local media reports, quoting unidentified security officials, said the attacker was a 26-year-old Palestinian from the town of Ya’bad near Jenin in the West Bank. He is the third Arab assailant to launch a violent assault in Israel as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches.

Authorities said that the attacker, clad in black and carrying a rifle, had arrived in the city in another vehicle and disembarked on Jabotinsky Street at 7.56pm on Tuesday. He is said to have first drawn his gun outside of a store and fired at a pedestrian, barely missing, before pursuing a cyclist, whom he also failed to hit, reportedly because the weapon jammed.

The shooter then moved to Bialik Street but, having not found anyone there, subsequently entered a grocery store and shot dead two men later identified as Ukrainian nationals, according to reports.

It is not yet known if they were living in Israel prior to Russia’s invasion on 24 February or had since fled Ukraine due to the conflict.

Video footage showed the attacker then stopping a moving vehicle and shooting the driver before proceeding down Herzl Street, where he shot a person who was walking with a child in a pram, and died attempting to protect the boy.

Two police officers on motorcycles arrived to confront the gunman, whereupon he shot dead one of them before the other killed him, local media said.

Following Tuesday’s attack, Israeli 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: “Israel is facing a wave of murderous Arab terrorism. The security forces are operating. We will fight terror with perseverance, stubbornness and an iron fist.”

His predecessor, current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel was “in the midst of a dangerous wave of terrorism that we have not seen for many years ... Determined action must be taken to restore peace and security to the citizens of Israel”.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas joined them in condemning the attack 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”.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken also spoke out, saying: “This violence is unacceptable. Israelis – like all people around the world – should be able to live in peace and without fear.”

However, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh condoned 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.

“We express our blessing to the Tel Aviv operation.”

The incident follows an attack last Tuesday in the southern city of Beersheba, in which an Israeli Arab, who had reportedly planned to join Isis militants in Syria, drove his car into a cyclist before stabbing three people at a shopping centre. He was later shot dead.

On Sunday, another attack saw two more Israeli Arabs open fire at a bus stop in the northern city of Hadera, killing two 19-year-old police officers, before they too were gunned down. Isis claimed responsibility for their actions in a post on Telegram.

The rare convergance of Ramadan, Passover and Easter this year has led to fresh fears of tensions being reignited in the Middle East this spring.

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