Israel attack: five shot dead in Bnei Brak as PM pledges to 'fight terrorism'

The killings near Tel Aviv heighten fears of more attacks or an outbreak of intercommunal violence

Crowds gather at the scene after five people were killed by a gunman on a main street in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, on Tuesday. Reuters
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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday pledged to fight terrorism after five people were shot dead, in the third fatal attack in days.

Mr Bennett said the country was facing a wave of terrorism after six people were killed in the earlier attacks, which were claimed by ISIS.

Tuesday’s shooting took place in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city near Tel Aviv, where emergency services said five men in their 30s and 40s were shot dead.

“I was at home when I heard gunshots,” said paramedic Menachem Englander. "I immediately went out to the street and saw a terrorist pointing a weapon at me. By a miracle his weapon jammed and he couldn't shoot."

One of the victims was a police officer killed while pursuing the assailant, who was shot dead, the force said.

The city’s municipality told residents to stay in their homes after the attack.

The EU’s envoy to Israel, Dimiter Tzantchev, condemned the “despicable terror attack” and “senseless violence”.

US ambassador Tom Nides said his “heart goes out to the families of the victims”.

The Bnei Brak attacker was identified by Israeli media as a Palestinian man from the Jenin area, in the north of the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli military said it would reinforce its troops in the West Bank, while the police said more officers would be stationed in locations such as transport centres. The military said they had arrested five Palestinians for alleged involvement in the killings and that the suspects were being questioned.

Mr Bennett held talks with military and security chiefs after the killings, which have increased fears of more attacks or an outbreak of intercommunal violence.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said security forces were facing “tense days”, while the police warned that false reports were circulating of rioting in the country.

Two Arab-Israeli gunmen killed two police officers on Sunday in Hadera, north of Tel Aviv.

And four people were killed in a stabbing and car ramming attack by an Arab-Israeli in the southern city of Beersheba on Tuesday.

The assailants were all shot dead and the two attacks claimed by ISIS.

Shootings of Israeli civilians and security forces within the country are rare. Tuesday’s attack raised fears of a return to the intercommunal violence seen last year.

Arabs and Jews went on the rampage in cities across the country last May, during the 11-day Gaza war.

The conflict broke out after Palestinian protests in occupied East Jerusalem, which were met with a heavy response by Israeli security forces.

Demonstrations in the city swelled during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is this year expected to begin on Saturday.

Updated: March 30, 2022, 11:35 AM