Israel has suspended most special permits for Palestinians to visit the country during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and beefed up police patrols in Tel Aviv after two gunmen killed four Israelis in Tel Aviv – an atrocity Hamas has called a “heroic operation”.
COGAT, an Israeli defence body, said 83,000 permits for Palestinians in the West Bank to visit relatives in Israel during Ramadan had been frozen. Israel considers the Ramadan permits a goodwill gesture toward Palestinians.
The Ramadan permits were also suspended for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including permits to visit relatives in Israel, travel abroad and attend prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, COGAT said.
The military has also frozen Israeli work permits for 204 of the gunmen’s relatives, and is preventing Palestinians from leaving and entering the West Bank village of Yatta, the attackers’ home, except for humanitarian and medical cases.
Hamas, the Islamic terror group that rules Gaza, welcomed the attack but did not claim responsibility for it. Hamas official Mushir al-Masri called the shootings a “heroic operation” and the group later issued an official statement promising the “Zionists” more “surprises” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
In Tel Aviv, extra police units have been mobilised, mainly around the city’s central bus and train stations, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
Two Palestinians opened fire near a popular open-air market in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, killing four Israelis and wounding nine others, in one of the deadliest attacks in an eight-month wave of violence.
The shooting occurred at the Sarona market, a series of restored buildings transformed into a popular tourist spot filled with crowded shops and restaurants. The complex is across the street from Israel’s military headquarters and is often filled with tourists and young soldiers in uniform.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu met his defence minister and security leaders shortly after the attack and then travelled to the scene. He called the attack a “cold-blooded murder by despicable terrorists”.
Channel 10 aired CCTV footage from inside a restaurant showing two men in suits shooting at diners as they run away from their tables. One of the attackers shoots a man on the ground and waves a knife before running out.