Late Tuesday, a shooter on a motorbike opened fire in a popular city in central Israel, killing at least four people in the week’s second mass shooting. Police shot and killed the shooter.
While the circumstances surrounding the shooting were not immediately apparent, it looked to be the latest in a series of attacks by Arab assailants ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the one-year anniversary of the Gaza conflict. The assailant, according to Israeli media, was a Palestinian from the West Bank. The previous two incidents, which were carried out by Arab Israeli residents who were motivated by the Islamic State terrorist group, have sparked fears of more carnage.
The gunshots took place at two sites in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox enclave east of Tel Aviv, on Tuesday. According to police, the shooter was armed with an assault weapon and opened fire on bystanders before being shot by authorities on the site, according to a statement.
Later Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened an emergency meeting of top security personnel.
Israel “stands before a tsunami of homicidal Arab terrorism,” Bennett said in a statement, vowing to fight it “with tenacity, stubbornness, and an iron hand.” On Twitter, Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated that the security forces “would work with all means” to restore security to Israeli streets and provide residents a sense of security.
According to Israeli media, the alleged shooter was a 27-year-old Palestinian male from Yabad in the northern West Bank. The suspect’s identity was not immediately revealed by the police.
On Israeli television, amateur camera footage appeared to show a shooter in a black shirt firing an assault rifle at a moving car.
Two young police officers were slain in a shooting spree in the central city of Hadera on Sunday, and four people were killed in a vehicle ramming and stabbing incident in the southern city of Beersheba last week.
In a sweep spurred by recent fatal assaults, Israeli security forces raided the homes of at least 12 Arab Israelis and detained two people suspected of having links to the Islamic State.
Bennett had declared only hours before the raid that previous attacks within Israel had created a “new scenario” that necessitated increased security measures.
According to law enforcement sources, 31 residences and places in northern Israel were examined overnight, including the home of the shooters who carried out the Hadera attack.
The Islamic State claims credit for the prior two assaults.
The deaths were criticized by Israeli politicians, who cited the timing as a factor. Both incidents occurred before of Ramadan, which begins later this week, and as Israel hosted a high-profile conference between four Arab foreign ministers and the US this week. The deaths were denounced by Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the United States.
Ramadan is set to start on Saturday. During the holy month of Ramadan last year, conflicts between Israeli police and Muslim demonstrators escalated into an 11-day battle between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic terrorist group that administers Gaza. The shooting was hailed by Hamas as a “heroic action.”
This year, Israel has taken attempts to de-escalate tensions with the Palestinians in order to avert another round of violence. IS assaults within Israel, as well as attacks by Arab Israeli residents, are uncommon.
The organization mostly works in Iraq and Syria, where it has lately increased attacks on security troops. It no longer has any control over territory and instead relies on sleeper cells to operate. IS has claimed responsibility for previous assaults against Israeli forces and has branches in Afghanistan and other countries.