Israel mourns 5 killed by gunfire, PM warns of terror ‘wave’

Israeli forces and emergency personnel gather at the scene of a shooting on March 29, 2022 in Bnei Brak. (Photo: AFP)
BNEI BRAK, Israel — Israelis on Wednesday mourned five people killed by a Palestinian gunman, the third deadly attack in a week, as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned of a “wave of murderous Arab terrorism”.اضافة اعلان

“The pain is great,” Bennett wrote on Twitter as several victims were laid to rest, police forces were placed on the highest alert and the Israeli occupation forces said extra units would be deployed in and around the West Bank.

The shooter, Diaa Armashah, 27, from the West Bank village of Yabad, opened fire on Tuesday evening with an M-16 assault rifle in Bnei Brak, a mostly Jewish Orthodox city near Tel Aviv, police said.

Armashah killed two Ukrainian men and two Israelis before police confronted him, authorities said. An Arab-Israeli officer died in the ensuing gunfight that also killed the assailant.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas issued a rare condemnation, saying the killings “will only lead to further deterioration of the situation, while we are all striving for stability.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the “terrorist attack” while a spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres said “such acts of violence can never be justified and must be condemned by all.”

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas, however praised the “heroic operation” as “legitimate and moral valiant resistance to end the occupation”.

Police said on Wednesday that they had arrested a West Bank Palestinian suspect for posting videos on TikTok “identifying with the terror attack in Bnei Brak” and an 18-year-old Israeli citizen from the Bedouin city of Rahat on suspicion of supporting Daesh.

Avishai Yehezkel, Yaakov Shalom, and Amir Khoury, an Arab Christian policeman from Nof Hagalil, perished in Tuesday’s attack.

Bennett tweeted a salute to Khoury, saying he “sacrificed himself heroically to save human lives, leaving behind a grieving and wounded family”.

The Ukrainian embassy condemned the “heinous terrorist attack” without immediately naming its two nationals, men aged 23 and 32.

Israel was home to around 15,000 Ukrainians before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. It has since received nearly 20,000 refugees from Ukraine, an interior ministry spokeswoman said.

A Ukrainian diplomatic source told AFP the men killed were workers who had been in Israel for several years.

Yehezkel and Shalom were buried Wednesday, while Khoury was set to be laid to rest in Nazareth on Thursday.

“Israel is facing a wave of murderous Arab terrorism,” said Bennett, whose disparate coalition government ranges from rightwing Jewish nationalists to Arab Islamists.

Tuesday’s shooting brings to 11 the total death toll from attacks in Israel over the past week, excluding the perpetrators.

Sunday’s attack coincided with a landmark meeting between Israel’s foreign minister and those of four Arab countries with ties to Israel, as well as Blinken.

The latest attack came as Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Jordan’s King Abdullah to discuss ways to ensure calm in the Palestinian territories during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Tensions flared last year during the fasting month, which resulted in an 11-day war by Israel on the Gaza Strip.

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