Funerals held for three killed in Israel’s Independence Day attack as police hunt suspects

Elad, Israel

Three men killed in a gun and ax attack late Thursday in the central Israeli town of Elad were buried Friday following a huge funeral procession, the service said Israeli relief Zaka Tel Aviv.

The Magen David Adom emergency service named them Oren Ben Yiftach, father of six; Yonatan Habakkuk, father of five children; and Boaz Gol, father of five children. All were in their 40s, the MDA said earlier.

Police said the incident, which happened on Israel’s Independence Day, involved two suspected attackers who fled the scene and have yet to be apprehended. One fired a rifle while the other attacked people with an ax or a knife, police said.

Emergency services received a report of the attack at 8:36 p.m. local time (1:36 p.m. ET).

The three men who were killed died at the scene, emergency services said. Four other men aged 23 to 60 were hospitalized.

Hospitals treating them said Friday that three of them were in life-threatening conditions.

On Friday, Israeli police named the two men suspected of carrying out the attack as Assad Yussef Assad Al-Rafa’i, 19, and Subhi Imad Subhi Abu Shakir, 20, residents of Jenin province in the West Bank.

Police are conducting a manhunt for the two suspects involving helicopters, roadblocks and vehicle checkpoints.

Footage from the scene on Thursday evening showed several emergency vehicles, including ambulances and motorbikes, arriving after reports of the attack.

“It’s a very difficult ordeal. When we got there, we noticed that the scene was complex,” said Alon Rizkan, a paramedic with Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency response service, in an interview. a statement on Thursday.

“Near Ibn Gvirol Square, a 40-year-old man was lying next to a car with serious injuries to his body. We did medical tests but he was without sign of life and we had to declare him dead.

“I went down the stairs to the nearby park, we performed resuscitation operations on a 40-year-old man who was unconscious and in the end we were forced to declare him dead,” added the paramedic.

“Dozens of meters away another injured man lay unconscious, also in his 40s with serious injuries, and after resuscitation he was pronounced dead,” he said.

Elad, where the attack took place, is a small, quiet and mostly religious town in central Israel, not far from Ben Gurion International Airport.

The attack is the latest in a series of violent incidents that have plagued Israel and the Palestinian territories in recent weeks.

Dozens of people have died in violence in Israel and the West Bank since March 22, according to a CNN tally.

In a statement, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned Thursday’s attack and offered his condolences to the affected families.

“Our enemies have embarked on a murderous campaign against Jews wherever they are. Their purpose is to break our spirit; but they will fail. We will get our hands on the terrorists and their supporting environment, and make sure they pay the price,” Bennett said in the statement.

Israel confirmed it would keep Gaza and the West Bank closed until at least Sunday after the attack, extending the closures already in place for Israeli holidays.

The Israel Defense Forces said that Palestinians living in these territories would only be allowed to enter Israel with prior authorization on a humanitarian basis, in special circumstances or for medical reasons.

Israeli security and rescue personnel work at the scene after Thursday's incident.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned Thursday’s violence, his office said in a statement.

“The killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians only further aggravates the situation at a time when we are all striving to achieve stability and prevent escalation,” Abbas said in the statement.

Abbas warned against Jewish settlers using the incident as an excuse “to carry out attacks and reactions against our Palestinian people”.

He added that “lasting, comprehensive and just peace is the shortest and best way to ensure the security and stability of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and the peoples of the region.”

Late Thursday, Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, praised the alleged terror attack, without explicitly taking credit for it.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum linked the attack to clashes inside the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

“It’s a brave and heroic act that comes as a natural response to the occupation’s violations against al-Aqsa Mosque,” he told CNN, referring to the Israeli security presence in the building. pregnant.

The attack “sends a message to the occupation that all its crimes and violations will be theirs alone,” he said, referring to Israel. “Our natural right is for our people to respond to the crimes of the occupation, to deter it and to defend our rights. Today, the occupation is paying the bill for its violations.

Muhammad Hamid Abu Al-Hassan, a member of the Islamic Jihad’s political bureau, praised the attackers.

“The occupation army and settler gangs’ desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque has crossed all red lines, and our people will continue to respond to this aggression,” he said, winking. eye to the clashes that occurred Thursday in the enclosure.

Only Muslims are allowed to visit the holy site, called the Temple Mount by Jews and Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary by Muslims, during the last 10 days of Ramadan each year. Groups of Israeli Jews began visiting again on Thursday.

Mourning ultra-Orthodox Jews surround a grief-stricken man over the attack.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned what he described as a “terrorist attack”, saying in a statement that it “was particularly heinous as Israel celebrated its Independence Day”.

“We remain in close contact with our Israeli friends and partners and stand firmly by their side in the face of this attack,” he added.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price also said Thursday that the attack appears to be “the latest in a series of despicable terror attacks that have rocked Israel in recent weeks.”

“We saw them before this holy period – the confluence of Easter, Passover, Ramadan. We saw them before the summit of the Negev. And if that’s what it appears to be, that’s something we would condemn in the strongest possible terms,” Price said.

“Our commitment to our Israeli partners, to the security of Israel, is rock solid, and we will provide whatever assistance may be needed in this case,” he added.

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