Israel Intensifies Troop Presence After Tel Aviv Shooting

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An innocent evening at a busy chocolate bar in Tel Aviv turned deadly Wednesday night when two Palestinian gunmen opened fire killing two Israelis—reigniting terrorism fears in the country. Another nine people suffered gunshot wounds, and four people are still being treated at the hospital, including one suspect, according to Israel’s national emergency medical service.

The Israeli  military quickly responded Thursday morning, announcing it will deploy hundreds of troops to the West Bank, including soldiers from infantry and special forces units. In Tel Aviv, extra police units were sent to monitor public places like train and bus stations. Thousands of Israeli police will also be deployed to Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque for tonight’s Ramadan prayers, which tens of thousands of people usually attend.

Video footage from nearby shops show customers fleeing in panic, knocking over tables, rushing to escape the violence.

“People were having coffee. I saw a birthday cake on one of the tables,” said one witness. “And then you see the chairs upside down and glass shattered and blood all over.”

One of the attackers was shot by police and the other surrendered, but their names cannot be released because Israeli authorities have issued a gag order on details that could identify them. However, police did say that the attackers are cousins, both in their twenties.

The military froze work permits for 204 of the attackers’ family members, and plans are underway to demolish the family home of one of the gunmen–a tactic common in Israel to punish terrorists.

Other Palestinians are also being penalized for the terrorists’ actions. Israel has frozen nearly 83,000 Palestinians’ permits, barring them from entering Israel. Special Ramadan permits were also suspended for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to visit relatives in Israel, travel abroad, and attend prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque, according to the Israeli defense organization, COGAT.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the shooting “a savage crime, murder in the heart of Tel Aviv. We will take the necessary steps to attack the attackers and defend those who need to be defended.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement condemning violence against civilians, although he did not directly reference the Tel Aviv shootings.

“The presidency has repeatedly emphasized that it stands against attacks on civilians, regardless of their sources or justifications,” the statement said. “Achieving just peace and creating a positive atmosphere is the way to ease tension and end violence.”

The mayor of Tel Aviv took to Twitter to express his thoughts:

Hamas, the Palestinian government arm of the Gaza Strip that has been deemed a terrorist organization by the West, and Islamic Jihadists, a militant group in Israel, both praised the attacks, but neither claimed responsibility for it.

The attack took place at one of Tel Aviv’s most popular spots, Sarona, home to dozens of shops, restaurants, and cafes. It is also located across the street from Israel’s Defense Ministry and main army headquarters. Being as busy as it is, it is nearly impossible to secure, according to CNN law enforcement analyst Steve Moore.

“It’s a classic soft terror target,” he said. “It is really indefensible. It is a mall. You are not going to set up a system whereby, absent body searches, you are going to stop these things.”

In the past nine months, Palestinians have killed 32 Israelis and two Americans in dozens of attacks against civilians and security forces. Israelis have killed about 200 Palestinians during the same time frame.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner issued a statement condemning the attacks:

“These cowardly attacks against innocent civilians can never be justified,” he said. “We are in touch with Israeli authorities to express our support and concern.”

Inez Nicholson
Inez is an editorial intern at Law Street from Raleigh, NC. She will be a junior at North Carolina State University and is studying political science and communication media. When she’s not in the newsroom, you can find her in the weight room. Contact Inez at



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