Two people were killed and several others injured when a gunman opened fire on a bar in downtown Tel Aviv on Thursday night in a terrorist attack, which is the last violent eruption in Israel in recent weeks.
The shooting took place on Dizengoff Street and turned an area that was usually crowded with people on Thursday nights into bars, restaurants and cafes across the popular thoroughfare into a scene of chaos and panic.
When the street was filled with ambulances and rescuers, police searched for a gunman believed to have escaped, walked out the door and told people to stay inside and lock their doors.
The attack began when at least one gunman walked up to Ilka, a popular bar with large outdoor seats, and opened fire.
“We dove under the tables and people started crying, it was awful,” said Evelyn Gertz, 34, who was eating next door.
Ten people were taken to a nearby Ichilov hospital with gunshot wounds, two of whom were later pronounced dead, the hospital said. Four others were reported serious and were undergoing surgery, according to the hospital. Two were seriously injured and two were injured to say the least.
Four others with minor injuries were taken to Wolfson Hospital in Holon and Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer.
Police described the incident as a national terrorist attack, although it was not known who the perpetrator or perpetrators were.
An Ilka employee told Channel 12 News that he had seen at least two assailants, at least one of whom opened fire from a pistol.
Preliminary reports indicated that at least one shooter had been “neutral”, but police said residents in the area were inside for fear gunmen might still be at large. Police Chief Yaakov Shabtai came to the scene of the attack and asked people to be vigilant and report suspicious individuals.
“A large number of forces are conducting extensive searches,” Rami Ben David, chief of police, told reporters. He said people who were still out on the streets should return home.
Down the street from the scene of the attack, television cameras showed dozens of officers and people in military uniforms gathering with guns pulled outside a building where it was suspected to be in a hole inside. Moments earlier, a loud explosion was heard, apparently due to a flash, on live television.
Echoes of gunfire were heard north of the scene of the attack, security forces surrounded a building with weapons pulled towards the roof@almog_tamar https://t.co/93ANGQ12k5 image.twitter.com/73wpgX8PeV
– News here (@kann_news) April 7, 2022
The attack was the latest to hit Israel after a series of shootings and stabbings in late March killed 11 people in one week, the deadliest terrorist attack since 2006.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Secretary of Defense Benny Gantz were at the military headquarters a few kilometers from the scene and received updates from the defense authorities.
Witnesses said there was chaos at the scene when the gunman shot at restaurants, where people were outside on Thursday night – the unofficial start of the weekend – in a sprint in a shelter under terror.
Thursday Lev Tel Aviv Civilians flee the shooting image.twitter.com/5Ty7us2hsH
– Haim Goldberg (@haim_goldberg) April 7, 2022
“People just started running,” said Daniel Rubenstein, 38.
The tour guide, who hid in a shelter with others in the stairwell of a nearby apartment building, said he heard a shot “ten meters behind me” and ran.
Security camera footage from the scene showed people on Ilka turning chairs and tables in a hurry to get away.
Israeli leaders have raised fears of a new rise in Palestinian terrorism in recent weeks, vowing to respond while trying to avoid escalating Palestinian anger during the holy month of Ramadan.
The shooting broke out in a tense calm that had erupted since March 28, when a Palestinian man opened fire on a Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, killing five people. Earlier in the day, Israeli-led attacks on Hadera and Beersheba, which are believed to have been carried out by the Islamic State, killed six others.
Foreign envoys sent to Israel quickly condemned the attack.
“It is appalling to see yet another cowardly terrorist attack on innocent civilians, this time in Tel Aviv. Pray for peace and send condolences to the victims and their families. This must stop, “tweeted US Ambassador Tom Nides.
EU Ambassador Dimitar Tzantchev said he was “deeply concerned” by reports of another terrorist attack on Israeli civilians, this time in the heart of Tel Aviv. Horrible.”
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