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Gunman kills five in shooting spree in Israel; third deadly attack in last week

Footage from the scene showed the gunman in dark clothing raising his automatic weapon and firing through the passenger window at point-blank range

FPJ Web Desk | Updated on: Wednesday, March 30, 2022, 09:29 AM IST

Police secure the site where a a gunman opened fire in Bnei Brak, Israel, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 | AP
Police secure the site where a a gunman opened fire in Bnei Brak, Israel, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 | AP
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A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire in a crowded city in central Israel late Tuesday, methodically gunning down victims as he killed at least five people in the second mass shooting rampage this week. The shooter was killed by police.

The shooting happened in Bnei Brak, one of the country's most populous ultra-Orthodox Jewish areas.

Israel security forces were on high alert after attacks by Israeli Arabs last Tuesday and Sunday, which left six people dead.

Residents in Bnei Brak and the neighbouring town of Ramat Gan reported that a man had driven around and opened fire at passers-by on Tuesday.

Footage from the scene showed the gunman in dark clothing raising his automatic weapon and firing through the passenger window at point-blank range.

One person was found dead in a vehicle and others on surrounding streets, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Israel “stands before a wave of murderous Arab terrorism,” declared Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. He pledged to combat it “with perseverance, stubbornness and an iron fist.” He held an emergency meeting of top security officials and planned a meeting of his Security Cabinet on Wednesday.

Israeli authorities have not yet determined whether the string of attacks were organized or whether the attackers acted individually. The Israeli military announced it would be deploying additional troops to the West Bank, and the police chief raised the national readiness level to its highest.

Former prime minister and current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was "in the midst of a dangerous wave of terrorism that we have not seen for many years... Determined action must be taken to restore peace and security to the citizens of Israel".

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attack.

"This violence is unacceptable," he said. "Israelis - like all people around the world - should be able to live in peace and without fear."

Israeli media reports say the attacker was a 27-year-old Palestinian from a village in the north of the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killings of the Israelis, the official Palestinian Wafa news agency said.

However, the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which governs Gaza, praised the attack, saying: "We express our blessing to the Tel Aviv operation."

Israel in recent weeks has been taking steps aimed at calming tensions and avoiding a repeat of last year, when clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators in Jerusalem boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas.

But the new wave of violence is greatly complicating those efforts.

On Sunday, a pair of gunmen killed two young police officers during a shooting spree in the central city of Hadera, and last week, a lone assailant killed four people in a car ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli security services raided the homes of at least 12 Arab citizens and arrested two suspected of having ties to the Islamic State group in a crackdown sparked by recent deadly attacks.

Hours before the raid, Bennett said the recent assaults inside Israel marked a “new situation” that required stepped-up security measures.

Law enforcement officials said 31 homes and sites were searched overnight in northern Israel, an area that was home to the gunmen who carried out the Hadera attack.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the two previous attacks.

(with inputs from AP)

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Published on: Wednesday, March 30, 2022, 09:29 AM IST