Hamas gunman wounds three in Tel Aviv attack before police kill him
A Palestinian gunman opened fire in Tel Aviv on Thursday, wounding three people before being killed by police in what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labelled a “terror attack” amid rising unrest in the West Bank.
The militant group Hamas claimed the shooter, a 23-year-old from the occupied West Bank, as a member.
Police cordoned off a corner of Dizengoff street in the city center where the attack took place. A restaurant was empty after customers apparently fled mid-meal, Reuters footage showed.
Medics treated the wounded on the sidewalk nearby.
The shooting followed a spate of attacks by Palestinians around Jerusalem and in the West Bank that have killed 13 Israelis and a Ukrainian woman since late January.
Over the past year, Israeli forces have made thousands of arrests in the West Bank and killed more than 200 Palestinians, including both fighters and civilians. More than 40 Israelis have died in attacks by Palestinians over the same period.
“There has been another terror attack in the heart of Tel Aviv tonight,” Netanyahu said after being updated on events during a visit to Italy.
“We strengthen the security forces and the police who are fighting terrorists this night and every night.”
West Bank gunbattle
Earlier on Thursday, Israeli forces killed three gunmen from the militant Islamic Jihad group in a gunbattle in the West Bank. Hamas said the Tel Aviv shooting was a response to that.
“The heroic operation is a natural response to the crimes conducted by the occupation,” Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said.
The three hurt by the Tel Aviv shooting were rushed to hospital, one in serious condition. Police officers killed the assailant, according to Israel's national security minister.
The attack came hours after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ended a brief visit to Israel where he called on all sides to de-escalate the violence.
After the shooting, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai asked protesters, who had been rallying against a planned judicial overhaul, to stay at home.