Two people die in Tel Aviv nightlife attack sparking fears about the upcoming holidays

A 29-year-old Palestinian fired at people in a crowded street, killing two and wounding 12. The police killed the attacker after a manhunt followed on social and mainstream media. Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attack, which was condemned by the Palestinian Authority. Jerusalem remains under maximum alert. For Christian leader, the latest incidents are the work of lone wolves and it is unclear if anyone is behind them.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – During Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer, “episodes of violence occur” carried out by “individuals who want to become martyrs” by sacrificing themselves for the cause, thus “inciting and fomenting [further] violence,” this according to Sobhy Makhoul, a member of the Maronite Church of Jerusalem and CEO of the Christian Media Center.

The recent spate of attacks in Israel is due to “isolated actions, personal initiatives,” a concerned Makhoul explained. At least for now, he says, we are talking about “single attacks, not large-scale, organised events”.

Last night Israeli security forces killed a Palestinian after he shot dead two people and injured 12 near a bar on Tel Aviv’ s Dizengoff Street, the city’s main commercial thoroughfare full of bars and restaurants.

After his attack, Raad Hazem, a 29-year-old from Jenin, reported to be affiliated with the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (Fatah), fled but was eventually “neutralized” in Jaffa.

Images from the shooting flooded social media highlighting the tensions and feelings of terror during an evening that was supposed to be the festive beginning of the weekend.

The two victims were childhood friends, Eytam Magini and Tomer Morad, both from Kfar Saba.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but both Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised it, calling it “heroic” and a clear message against the occupation that must stop its raids against the al-Aqsa mosque.

Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack warning that the death of Palestinian and Israeli civilians can only further worsen the situation.

Yesterday’s incident was just the latest in a violent string of attacks that recently swept over Israel.

Last week a Palestinian opened fire in Bnei Brak, a mostly Jewish ultra-Orthodox city next to Tel Aviv. Before that, a young Arab Israeli killed two policemen in Hadera in an attack later claimed by the Islamic State. Four more Israelis died on 22 March in Beersheba, Negev.

For Sobhy Makhoul, “what is worrisome are the attacks by Israeli Arabs and the inspiration from jihadi groups, like the Islamic State, who want to strike at the heart of Israel.

“So far, they [the attackers] seem to be lone wolves, single individuals; it is not clear whether there is an organised leadership or a wider movement behind them.”

As a result, police have been deployed in large numbers. “At least 3,000 officers are in and around Jerusalem and it is not certain whether access to the mosques on Temple Mount will be guaranteed for Friday prayers. All access points were closed in the morning.”

One of the reasons for the uncertainty is “the political situation in Israel” where the government, a fragile coalition ranging from the religious right to the left, lost its majority in parliament.

At present, “no one knows what might happen. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not the only one to benefit or want its [the government’s] downfall because others within his party want power too.”

Hopefully, Easter will “bring some peace of mind,” Makhoul said. “Holidays are piling up, but few pilgrims are expected, also for reasons of safety.

“On the positive side, services will be open to the public because COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Despite tensions, people want to join in.”