Gunman kills five in Israeli ultra-Orthodox town

The attack comes after two ISIL-claimed attacks in a week in Israel.

Israeli police forensics experts work at the scene of an attack in which people were killed by a gunman on a main street in Bnei Brak.
At least five people were killed by a gunman on a main street in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv [Nir Elias/Reuters]

A gunman has killed at least five people in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox suburb of the Israeli city Tel Aviv, before being shot dead.

“We unfortunately have to note that five people have died,” Eli Bin, the head of the Magen David Adom emergency responders, said.

Another person suffered life-threatening injuries, according to a spokesperson for the ZAKA rescue service.

Police said in a statement that a man armed with an assault rifle had opened fire on passers-by in two different locations in Bnei Brak, in Tel Aviv’s east. He was shot by officers at the scene.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the country is gripped by a “wave of murderous Arab terrorism” and called an emergency meeting of top security officials.

The attack is the latest in a series of incidents that have raised security concerns in Israel. It came two days after a shooting in the city of Hadera that left two police officers dead, and a week after a stabbing in the southern city of of Beer al-Sabe (Be’er Sheva) in which four people were killed.

ISIL claimed responsibility for both attacks in the past week, in which the assailants were killed.

The United States said it “strongly condemned” what it described as a “terrorist attack” in Bnei Brak, and noted the recent slew of incidents.

“This violence is unacceptable,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “Israelis – like all people around the world – should be able to live in peace and without fear.  Our hearts go out to the families of those killed in the attacks.”

Authorities on Tuesday said Israeli security forces had raided the homes of at least 12 Palestinian citizens of Israel, and arrested two suspected of having ties to ISIL, as part of a security crackdown sparked by the recent attacks.

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

The attack came in advance of the holy month of Ramadan, during which tensions between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters have boiled over in recent years, and Israeli security forces conducted several raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Last year, clashes expanded into an 11-day war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, which has been running the besieged strip since 2007.

The German government warned against “a spiral of violence during holidays to come for Jews, Muslims and Christians” following Tuesday’s attack.

“All those who have responsibilities and influence must clearly condemn these acts of violence in order to avoid a new escalation of violence,” a German foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies