A manhunt was underway in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area late Thursday, hours after a gunman killed two along Dizengoff Street, known for its bustling nightlife. Several others sustained moderate to critical injuries, according to initial reports.
Media reported that authorities believe one person carried out the shootings, the fourth such deadly attack inside the 1949 armistice line demarcating Israel from the West Bank since late last month.
Eleven people were killed in those earlier attacks in addition to the four Palestinians who carried them out. All but one of the slain attackers were citizens of Israel and the other was from the West Bank.
While Israel uses lethal force against Palestinians in the West Bank on a nearly weekly basis, such deadly violence like that seen in Tel Aviv in recent weeks has not been experienced in years.
Israel’s public broadcaster stated that Israeli security forces set up a hundred roadblocks around the city, where public transit was shut down as police and soldiers searched “buildings, inside apartments, in alleyways and dumpsters,” The Times of Israel reported.
Tel Aviv residents were ordered to stay indoors.
Following the attack, Mushir al-Masri, a senior official of Hamas, stated that “resistance operations are a natural response to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.” No Palestinian faction claimed responsibility.
No such condemnations were issued after Israeli occupation forces killed three Palestinians during an ambush in the northern West Bank on Saturday.
The three slain men were resistance fighters belonging to the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. Israel claimed that they were previously involved in armed actions “against Israeli security forces,” according to The Jerusalem Post, and were planning to conduct an operation on the night they were killed.
Under international law, Palestinians have the right to use armed resistance against Israeli military occupation. Israel, however, characterizes any and all resistance to its military occupation as “terrorism.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett asserted that the men were a “ticking time-bomb,” in an effort to justify killings that may bear the hallmark of extrajudicial executions.
Nor was there any condemnation when Israeli occupation forces in Jenin killed 16-year-old Sanad Abu Atiya on 31 March as he tried to render aid to another Palestinian who had just been fatally shot by Israeli soldiers raiding the area.Before Thursday’s deadly shooting, tensions were already high ahead of the first Friday of Ramadan and before the Passover holiday beginning on 15 April, during which Israel typically increases its repressive measures against Palestinians.
During Ramadan last year, weeks of tension came to a head after Israeli police stormed Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque while it was filled with worshippers, injuring hundreds.
Resistance groups in Gaza fired volleys of rockets in retaliation and Israel began bombing Gaza, setting off an 11-day escalation that would kill more than 250 Palestinians in Gaza and around a dozen people in Israel.