This is the third attack to hit Israel in a week. Five people died in an attack by a Palestinian from the West Bank on Tuesday evening, March 30, in the city of Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv. On March 22, four people were killed in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in the city of Beersheba, in the Israeli Negev. On Sunday March 27, two militants claiming to be from the jihadist organization Islamic State (IS) killed two police officers, including a Franco-Israeli, during a shootout in the coastal town of Hadera.
It was almost 8 p.m. on Tuesday evening when a man started firing an automatic weapon at passers-by in Bnei Brak. Among the victims, two ultra-Orthodox men – Yaakov Shalom, 36, and Avishai Yehezkel, 29 –, two migrants whose identity is not yet known, and a policeman. The latter, Amir Khoury, 32, an Israeli Arab, comes from a family in Galilee. It was one of his colleagues who ultimately shot the assailant, Diaa Hamarsheh, 26, who resided in Yaabad, near Jenin, in the northern West Bank.
If the two previous attacks were committed by people linked to IS, the Bnei Brak shooter does not seem to have been related to this organization. According to local media, he spent four years in Israeli prisons.
Celebrations for the “martyr”
The Israeli police have raised their vigilance to their highest level since the May 2021 war. The army has also reinforced its presence on the border with Gaza and in the West Bank and deployed in force in the locality of Yaabad. “Such acts of violence can never be justified and must be condemned by all”denounced the head of the UN Antonio Guterres in a press release. “Terrorism has once again struck Israel”reacted Emmanuel Macron on his Twitter account, adding that the Jewish state could “count on the support of France and on [s]we are totally committed to the fight against this scourge”.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas explicitly condemned the attack, warning that “the death of Palestinian and Israeli civilians only aggravates the situation, while [qu’ils] looking for[ent] to preserve stability as we approach the holy month of Ramadan, and the Christian and Jewish holidays”. The Palestinian Authority, losing legitimacy, is finding it increasingly difficult to control its territory.
In Gaza and the West Bank, impromptu celebrations were held to celebrate the “martyrdom” of Diaa Hamarsheh. Activists marched in procession outside his home, while others handed out sweets to passers-by in the streets. While none of the main Palestinian movements claimed responsibility for the attack, the Islamists of Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip, called it a “natural response to the crimes of the occupation”.
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