Middle East

Tel Aviv shooting: Israel suspends Palestinian permits

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Media captionFootage shows a large number of emergency services personnel at the scene

Israel says it has suspended entry permits for 83,000 Palestinians after gunmen killed four people in an attack at an open-air complex in Tel Aviv.

Two Palestinians from the occupied West Bank opened fire on shoppers and diners at the Sarona precinct, officials said.

Police said the attackers were cousins from Yatta, a Palestinian town near Hebron. Both are in custody.

Islamist group Hamas praised what it called an "heroic attack" but did not say it was behind it.

In a statement a day after the killings, the West Bank-based Palestinian Presidency said it "repeatedly emphasised its rejection of all operations targeting civilians regardless of their identity and irrespective of the justifications", without directly addressing the Tel Aviv attack.

Two women - Ilana Nave, 39, and Mila Mishayev, 32 - and two men - Ido Ben Aryeh, 42, and Michael Feige, 58 - were killed in the shootings, police said.

Sixteen people were also injured.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The area was busy with diners and shoppers when the attackers opened fire

The two gunmen, who were smartly dressed, opened fire with automatic weapons on diners and passers-by after sitting down and ordering food at one of the complex's restaurants.

CCTV footage showed customers diving for cover and scrambling for the exit. One of the attackers was wounded by security forces and has undergone surgery at an Israeli hospital.

News of the attack was greeted in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip with fireworks and cheering. Some Palestinians handed out sweets and waved flags in celebration.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Sarona complex shortly after Wednesday night's attack, calling it "a savage crime of murder and terrorism".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The scene of the attack became a makeshift memorial after it reopened on Thursday

Israel later announced a permit ban that will impact Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip who had planned to visit relatives in Israel, attend Ramadan prayers in Jerusalem or travel abroad via Tel Aviv's airport.

The suspension did not apply to Palestinians with work authorisations.

Permits for 204 relatives of the attackers had also been suspended, a statement from Cogat, the Israeli body which manages civilian affairs in the West Bank, said.

It added Palestinians were being prevented from entering and leaving Yatta, and access to the town would only be allowed for humanitarian and medical cases.

According to Israeli media, army forces have also measured the houses of the attackers, in preparation for possible demolition.

Extra security

Israel's military said it would deploy two additional battalions involving "hundreds" of troops in the West Bank in the wake of the attack.

In Tel Aviv, extra police units have been despatched, mainly around the city's bus and train stations, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Israeli forces are operating in the West Bank town of Yatta where the attackers lived

In a statement, Hamas warned the "Zionists" would have more "surprises" during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which started this week.

The incident is the deadliest in a wave of Palestinian attacks since October which have killed 33 Israelis, although the rate of stabbings, shooting and car-rammings had dropped in recent weeks.

More than 200 Palestinians - mostly attackers, Israel says - have also been killed in that period.

The assailants who have been killed have been shot dead either by their victims or by security forces as they carried out attacks. Some attackers have been arrested.

Other Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.


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