Israelis Say Shooter Who Killed 5 Was West Bank Palestinian | KSEE24

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli police said Wednesday the assailant who used an assault rifle to methodically shoot victims from a motorcycle in a central Israeli town was a Palestinian.

The shooter, identified as Diaa Hamarsheh, 27, from the occupied village of Yabad in the West Bank, was killed by police on Tuesday evening. Israeli media said the army raided the man’s home on Wednesday morning and arrested several of his relatives as part of its investigation into the attack.

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

Israel “is facing a wave of deadly Arab terrorism,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. He pledged to fight it “with perseverance, stubbornness and an iron fist”. 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 that it would deploy additional troops to the West Bank, and the police chief raised national readiness to an all-time high.

Amateur video footage shown on Israeli television appeared to show the blackshirt gunman stopping a moving vehicle and shooting the driver. Another showed him chasing a cyclist, with the gun appearing to jam as he attempted to fire.

Tuesday’s shootings took place at two locations in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox town just east of Tel Aviv. Police said a preliminary investigation revealed the shooter was armed with an assault rifle and opened fire on bystanders before being shot by officers at the scene.

The Magen David Adom paramedic service confirmed that five people had been killed. Police say one of the victims was a police officer who arrived on the scene and hired the shooter. Two other victims were foreign citizens of Ukraine, police said.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that security forces “will work in every way to restore security to Israeli streets and a sense of security for civilians.”

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, saying the killing of Israeli or Palestinian civilians “only aggravates the situation and the instability, which we are all striving to achieve, to especially as we approach the holy month of Ramadan and Christian and Jewish holidays.

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

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

In recent weeks, Israel has taken steps aimed at easing tensions and avoiding a repeat of last year, when clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem escalated into an 11-day war between Israel and the Hamas.

But the new wave of violence greatly complicates these efforts.

Two gunmen killed two young policemen in a shootout in the central town of Hadera on Sunday, and last week a lone assailant killed four people in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in the southern town of Beer Sheva.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli security services raided the homes of at least 12 Arab citizens and arrested two suspects of having ties to the Islamic State group in a crackdown sparked by the recent deadly attacks.

Hours before the raid, Bennett said the recent attacks inside Israel marked a “new situation” that required heightened security measures.

Law enforcement officials said 31 homes and sites were searched overnight in northern Israel, an area that housed the gunmen who carried out the Hadera attack.

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

All of the attacks took place just before Ramadan, which begins later this week and as Israel hosted a high-profile meeting this week between the foreign ministers of four Arab countries and the United States.

The four Arab nations – Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – as well as the United States, have condemned the killings.

Ramadan is expected to start on Saturday.

Deadly ISIS attacks inside Israel and attacks on Arab citizens of Israel are rare.

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

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