Two people were killed and seven wounded in a shooting at a crowded commercial area of central Tel Aviv on Friday. Police are currently conducting a manhunt for the assailant and trying to ascertain his motives.
The shooter’s identity is currently the subject of a gag order, but he is reportedly a 29-year-old Israeli Arab from the town of Wadi Ara in northern Israel. His father, who is a police volunteer, saw footage of his son on TV and alerted authorities. Sami Milhem, a relative of the suspect, told local news that the man was “not of sound mind.” The Times of Israel reported more:
Channel 2 reported that the killer’s cousin was shot dead in a police raid in 2006, when the cousin was found to be storing weapons. Subsequently, in a 2007 incident, the killer attacked a soldier with a screwdriver and tried to grab the soldier’s gun to avenge his cousin’s death, and was jailed for five years. After that incident, the suspect was given a psychiatric examination and found to require treatment, Israel Radio said. Relatives said he was depressed and had been working in various casual jobs of late.
Witnesses said that the man fired at least 15 shots using a semi-automatic weapon, hitting a bar, a restaurant, and a cafe near Tel Aviv’s popular Dizingoff Center Mall. Security camera footage showed the man calmly buying nuts at a grocery store before emerging from the store and opening fire.
The two victims were identified as Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi. Bakal was a manager of the bar that was attacked. Several of the casualties were celebrating a birthday there.
While there have not yet been any official announcements, Haaretz reported that “There is a growing consensus among security officials that the shooting was a terrorist attack.” Army Radio reported that the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, had not received a particular warning about such an attack.
[Photo: The Israel Project]