Israelis say shooter who killed five was West Bank Palestinian – Reuters

The incident was the third such attack before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Two previous attacks, carried out by Palestinian citizens of Israel at the initiative of the Islamic State extremist group, raised fears of further violence.

Israel is “facing a wave of deadly Arab terrorism,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. He promised to fight this “persistence, perseverance and an iron hand.” He held an emergency meeting of senior security officials and scheduled a meeting of his security cabinet for Wednesday.

Israeli authorities have not yet determined whether the attacks were organized or whether the attackers acted individually. The Israeli army announced it would send more troops to the West Bank, and the police chief raised national readiness to an all-time high.

Amateur footage shown on Israeli television shows a black-shirted gunman stopping a moving vehicle and shooting at the driver. Another showed him chasing a cyclist and the gun seemed to jam as he tried to fire.

Tuesday’s shooting took place at two locations in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city east of Tel Aviv. Police said preliminary investigations showed the shooter was armed with a machine gun and opened fire on bystanders before being shot dead by police at the scene.

Magen David Adom medical service confirmed that five people had died. Police say one of the victims was a police officer who arrived at the scene and hired the shooter. The other two victims were foreign citizens of Ukraine, police said.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted that the security forces “will work hard to restore safety on Israeli streets and a sense of security for civilians.”

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, saying that the killing of Israeli or Palestinian civilians “only exacerbates the situation and instability that we all yearn for, especially as the holy month of Ramadan and the Christian and Jewish holidays approach.”

He said the violence “confirms that a permanent, comprehensive and just peace is the shortest path to security and stability for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.”

No Palestinian group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The Islamist group Hamas welcomed the “heroic operation” but refrained from claiming responsibility.

Israel has taken steps in recent weeks to ease tensions and prevent a repeat of last year’s situation, when clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators in Jerusalem escalated into an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas.

But the new wave of violence is making those efforts much more difficult.

Two gunmen killed two young policemen in a gunfight in the central city of Hadera on Sunday, and last week a lone attacker killed four people in a car ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba.

Earlier Tuesday, Israeli security forces broke into the homes of at least 12 Arab citizens and arrested two suspected ISIS ties in a crackdown sparked by recent deadly attacks.

Hours before the raid, Bennett said the recent attacks in Israel marked a “new situation” requiring increased security measures.

Law enforcement officials said that overnight in northern Israel, in the area where the militants who committed the attack in Hadera lived, a search was carried out in 31 houses and places.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the previous two attacks.

The attacks all took place shortly before Ramadan, which begins at the end of this week, and when a high-profile meeting took place in Israel this week between the foreign ministers of four Arab countries and the United States.

Four Arab countries – Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – as well as the United States condemned the killings.

Ramadan is expected to start on Saturday.

Deadly ISIS attacks inside Israel and attacks against Israeli Arab citizens are rare.

The group operates primarily in Iraq and Syria, where attacks on security forces have intensified recently. It no longer controls any territory, but operates through sleeping cells. IS has claimed responsibility for attacks on Israeli forces in the past and has branches in Afghanistan and other countries.

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