Terrorist Gunman Killed by Israeli Security Forces After 9-Hour Manhunt
The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear, the Associated Press reported.
Security forces killed the lone shooter, identified as 28-year-old Ra’ad Fathi Hazem from the Jenin refugee camp, after a 9-hour manhunt that included at least 1,000 police and IDF [Israeli Defense Forces], the news outlet reported.
Hazem had been hiding in a mosque in Jaffa when he was located by security. Gunfire was exchanged when Hazem fired at least 10 bullets in a shootout with counter-terrorism and security agents, the BBC reported.
According to the Israeli security agency Shin Bet, Hazem had no known organizational affiliations, previous arrests, or security background, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The agency said that he had entered Israel illegally and that they are investigating whether he had any support, the news outlet reported.
At a Friday morning press conference at the Kirya Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, along with other prominent Israeli leaders expressed their condolences to those innocent civilians killed and wishes to those injured.
The prime minister praised the security forces who were diligent in locating the terrorist.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the “country is facing a spate of terror attacks, and like previous waves, it will be defeated by an 'operational iron fist.'"
“The State of Israel is the most powerful country in the region. Our enemies know and feel it,” Gantz said, in part. “Perpetrators will pay a heavy price.”
The Ilka bar on Dizengoff was one of the locations the gunman opened fire.
The two men who were killed at the bar were identified as Tomer Morad, who worked at the Ilka bar, and Eitam Megini, 27. They were childhood friends. The third fatality was a 35-year-old father of three, who was one of 12 wounded. He died in the hospital on Friday, the BBC reported.
The other people wounded were being treated at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Evelyn Gertz, 34, who was eating next door to where the shooting happened told the BBC about her harrowing experience. “We dove under the tables and people started crying, it was horrible," she said.
Video from CCTV shows chaos of people scrambling trying to escape from the downtown area as emergency vehicles rushed in, a report said.
After that attack, police urged the public to stay at home and get off the streets until the gunman is caught, the BBC previously reported.
"Don't leave your homes. Don't stick your heads out of the window. Stay off your balconies," police spokesman Eli Levy said on Channel 13 television, the news outlet said.
Two hours after the shooting, the gunman was still on the loose and at least 1,000 police officers and additional IDF soldiers were searching the area, The Jerusalem Post previously reported.
The suspect was said to be dressed in black shorts and a black shirt and was carrying a handgun, according to police, the news outlet reported.
Special forces, including units from the IDF’s Sayeret Matkal and Shaldag Units and police’s Yamam elite counter-terror unit, were searching for the gunman with senior agents from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), The Jerusalem Post reported.
The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear, the AP reported.
Police said there were “indications” that Thursday's shooting was a politically motivated attack, the AP reported. It was the fourth deadly assault in Israel in less than three weeks at a time of heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions, the news outlet said.
The militant Hamas group ruling Gaza did not take responsibility for the attack but praised the attack in Tel Aviv, The Washington Post previously reported.
In a statement on its website Thursday, Hamas called it a “heroic operation” that “led to the killing of a number of occupying soldiers and Zionist settlers, the news outlet reported.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz told citizens to continue their daily routine and stressed that “resilience is the wait to defeat terrorism,” he said, The Jerusalem Post reported.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attack, adding that Washington stood with Israel "resolutely in the face of senseless terrorism and violence,” the BBC reported.
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