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Two killed in Tel Aviv terror attack

What happened: A terrorist opened fire at pedestrians and patrons of the Ilka Bar, on Dizengoff Street in central Tel Aviv last night, and then managed to flee the scene.

  • Following a massive over-night manhunt, the attacker, who came from Jenin, was found in Jaffa where he was killed in a gunfight early this morning.
  • Two people in their 20s were killed and 15 were injured. Four of the victims are in serious to critical condition.
  • Commenting last night Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the “murderous terror struck in the heart of Tel Aviv. Young Israelis who never wronged anyone were murdered simply because they’re Israelis. This terror is the poisonous outcome of ongoing incitement by terrorist organisations driven by an ideology of hate. We will fight terror without compromise.”
  • This morning Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a situation assessment with heads of the security establishment. He ordered the closing of the Gilboa (Jalameh) crossing until further notice in order to isolate the possibility of movement into and out of Jenin.
  • Meanwhile, Palestinians across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip celebrated the attack, distributing sweets, holding celebratory processions, and singing praises in mosques.
  • Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement, which read: “I condemn the killing of two Israeli civilians last night in a shooting attack in Tel Aviv. Killing Palestinian and Israeli civilians will only lead to a deterioration of the situation while we all strive for stability, especially in the month of Ramadan and the upcoming Christian and Jewish holidays.”
  • Despite Abbas condemning the attack, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (his party’s military wing) accepts responsibility for the attack.
  • The attack was also condemned by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who wrote on twitter, “Appalled by the latest reports from Tel Aviv, where innocent people enjoying a Thursday night with friends and family were targeted by gunfire.  The UK stands with Israel and against this abhorrent violence.”

Context: This is the fourth deadly attack in the last two weeks, in which 13 people have been killed.

  • Earlier this week the IDF Chief of Staff revealed that at least ten terror attacks were prevented in the last two weeks thanks to preventative raids based on intelligence.
  • Like the attack in Bnei Brak last week, the attacker came from Jenin. The assailant’s father served as a senior officer in the Palestinian Authority’s security forces.
  • The significance of Jenin was highlighted in this week’s BICOM podcast with terror expert Dr Ely Karmon.
  • In anticipation of this wave of terror, the IDF deployed 13 battalions across the West Bank to prevent terrorist infiltrations. Almost half of those are stationed on the seam line to physically plug the holes where the fence has been breached.
  • The current assessment holds that Hamas prefers to encourage and support violence inside Israel and the West Bank, and is not currently looking to escalate the situation on the Gaza border. As such, they have pressured Islamic Jihad not to fire rockets at this time.
  • This latest attack challenges Israel’s approach to keep the West Bank open during Ramadan, to allow Palestinian worshipers access to Jerusalem, and for Palestinians to visit family inside Israel.
  • If attacks persist, the military will likely impose a general closure of the West Bank, which is usually the case during major Jewish holidays.
  • Israel has made an effort to coordinate their policy with the Palestinian and Jordanian leadership, and earlier this week Defence Minister Gantz spoke with PA Chairman Abbas.
  •  The security challenge is compounding the political crisis, that saw the government lose its majority earlier this week.

Looking ahead:  The police are on the highest alert across all sectors as today is the first Friday prayers of Ramadan.

  • The heightened state of alert is set to continue for some time, with IDF standing orders in place till after Israel’s Independence Day, which falls this year on May 5th. The IDF has deployed its forces in anticipation for the next two months.

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