Israel revokes travel permits for Palestinians after attack
Decision came after two gunmen killed four Israelis and injured five others in Tel Aviv
An Israeli soldier keeps watch over Palestinians after the army entered the village of Yatta in the occupied West Bank on in search for clues leading to an attack the previous night in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Photograph: Hazem Bader/ AFP/Getty Images
The Israeli military says it has revoked all permits for Palestinians to visit Israel and travel abroad during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The decision came after two gunmen killed four Israelis and wounded at least five others in Tel Aviv.
COGAT, an Israeli defence body, said all 83,000 permits have been frozen for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to visit family in Israel, attend Ramadan prayers in Jerusalem or travel abroad through Israel’s Tel Aviv airport.
The military said it has 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, home of the attackers.
COGAT said entering or leaving will only be permitted for humanitarian and medical cases, after one of the deadliest attacks in an eight-month wave of violence.
The shooting occurred at the Sarona market, a series of restored buildings that have been 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.
“Two terrorists opened fire at civilians,” Tel Aviv district police commander Moshe Edri said, adding that one of the detained attackers was being treated for a gunshot wound.
Police had initially said there might be a third attacker but ruled that out after extensive searches and examining security camera footage.
Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said four Israelis ware taken to the facility in critical condition and died of their wounds.
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”.
Hamas, the Islamic militant 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.
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.
Shlomi Hajaj, director of the market, told the station that security guards at the entrance prevented the attackers from entering, “averting a bigger disaster” as it was packed with people.
Police said the two gunmen were members of the same family from the Palestinian village of Yatta, near the West Bank city of Hebron, which has been a flashpoint for violence in recent months.
Over the last eight months Palestinians have carried out dozens of attacks on civilians and security forces, mostly stabbings, shootings and car ramming assaults that have killed 32 Israelis and two Americans.
About 200 Palestinians have been killed during that time, most identified as attackers by Israel. The assaults were once near-daily incidents but they have become less frequent in recent weeks.
Most of the attacks have been in east Jerusalem or the West Bank, territories Israel seized from Jordan in the 1967 war which the Palestinians want for their future state.
But Tel Aviv, Israel’s most cosmopolitan city, has not been spared. A member of Israel’s Arab minority went on a shooting rampage on New Year’s Day, killing three people, and in March a Palestinian went on stabbing spree, killing an American and wounding seven other people before he was shot dead.