Three were wounded in the shooting in Tel Aviv, hours after the raid in the West Bank
TEL AVIV, Israel — A Palestinian gunman opened fire on a busy street in central Tel Aviv late Thursday, wounding three people before he was shot dead, Israeli officials said. The shooting came hours after an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank killed three Palestinian militants.
The incidents are the latest in a year-long wave of Israeli-Palestinian fighting that shows no signs of slowing.
The shooting in Tel Aviv happened on Dizengoff Street, a popular main street lined with shops and restaurants. The city was packed with people on Thursday night, at the start of the Israeli weekend and as anti-government protests took place in the Mediterranean city.
A picture on social media showed the attacker standing in the middle of the road while pointing a gun. According to the MADA ambulance service, one of the wounded is in a critical condition, and according to the authorities, the security forces in the area quickly killed the shooter.
Footage from a restaurant’s security camera shows the gunman approaching three pedestrians on the sidewalk across the street from behind. He shoots one person in the head, leaves him motionless on the ground, and the other two pedestrians run away.
An amateur video taken a short time later also shows the attacker trapped in an alley while several armed Israelis are standing around the corner. A man could be heard yelling “close the window” to a resident. As the suspect ran out of the alley, he was shot multiple times.
Dozens of police and ambulances rushed to the scene, which was quickly cordoned off.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Rome, said the government was working to “strengthen the security forces and the police who are fighting terrorists tonight and every night.”
Early Thursday, three Palestinian militants were killed in a shootout with Israeli troops in the northern West Bank.
Israeli security forces said they raided the village of Jaba to arrest people suspected of attacks on Israeli soldiers in the area. The suspects opened fire on Israeli soldiers, who returned fire and killed three people, all affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, police said.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the men as Sufyan Fakhoury, 26, Nayef Malaisha, 25, and Ahmed Fashafsha, 22, and said they were shot by Israeli fire during the military operation. The fourth man was hospitalized with a bullet wound to the head, the authorities added.
Israel police released a photo of assault rifles, pistols, ammunition and explosive devices they said troops confiscated in Jabba, just south of the flashpoint city of Jenin. Gunmen shot down an Israeli drone during the clashes, the military said.
The Jaba armed group, a fledgling militia of disaffected young Palestinians who took up arms against Israel’s occupation, said its members opened fire and threw explosive devices at Israeli forces from a sedan – which now stands smashed and bloodied in the center of the city. Residents said Israeli troops killed members of the group, who had recently been jailed by Israel, and recently carried out a shootout at a nearby checkpoint.
This year has been marked by increased unrest in the West Bank, with Israeli arrest raids turning into protracted firefights with armed Palestinians.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters during his visit to Israel on Thursday that he had discussed his concerns about the flare-up of violence in the occupied West Bank with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
The United States “urged everyone to de-escalate,” the defense secretary said, especially ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which this year coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover.
“The United States remains strongly opposed to actions that could create further instability, including settlement expansion and inflammatory rhetoric,” Austin said, adding that he was “particularly troubled” by settler violence against Palestinians. “We will continue to oppose steps that make the two-state solution unattainable.”
Netanyahu’s far-right government, which took office late last year, has already approved thousands of new settlement homes, legalized unlicensed outposts, some built on private Palestinian land, and vowed to further strengthen Israeli control over the occupied territory. Last month, in response to a Palestinian attack that killed two Israelis, a mob of settlers went on a rampage in the Palestinian town of Hawara, burning dozens of homes and businesses, killing one person.
The Israeli military released a report on the rampage on Thursday that identified a number of failures, including an insufficient number of troops in the area and the need to send reinforcements more quickly. They said “lessons were learned” about coordination between the military, police and Homeland Security agents.
“This is a serious incident that happened under our responsibility and should not have happened,” said Israel’s military chief, Lt. Col. Herzi Halevi.
Austin urged calm, even as Gaza-based Islamic Jihad issued a veiled threat, saying its fighters were responding to the morning raid “to deter the enemy and avenge the blood of the martyrs”. Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip previously followed the violence in the West Bank.
The Jaba armed group includes militants from various factions, including Islamic Jihad and the armed wing of the nationalist Fatah party. According to the militants in the village, Islamic Jihad supports the group and supplies its members with weapons.
The group is part of a larger trend of emerging armed groups in the West Bank shooting at Israeli soldiers and civilians and opening fire during Israeli raids on their towns in opposition to the increasingly unpopular Palestinian Authority. In the northern West Bank, where most of the fighting is concentrated, the Palestinian Authority’s control is receding as Palestinian youth’s hopes for statehood fade.
Jaba’s rough streets were thronged with young Palestinians who chanted against the Israeli occupation and fired shots into the air while holding aloft the dead bodies of gunmen.
Yousef Hammour, 28, who took part in the funeral procession, said that Palestinian anger against Israel will only increase with the increased arrests.
“Everybody’s in shock, everybody’s angry,” Hammour said. “Every single day more and more of us are being killed. If they attack us, we will attack them.”
Earlier this week, at least six Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said 14-year-old Walid Nasser died Thursday from injuries sustained in Tuesday’s raid.
Since the beginning of the year, at least 74 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli raids in the West Bank, about half of them linked to armed groups. At the same time, 14 people were killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis, all but one civilian.
Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War, areas the Palestinians seek as their future state. In the decades since then, more than 700,000 Jewish settlers have moved into dozens of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem annexed by the Israelis, which the international community considers illegal and an obstacle to peace.
Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre and Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed to this report.