Three people were killed and several others seriously hurt in a suspected terror attack in the central city of Elad on Thursday, medics said.
At least one of the wounded was in critical condition, and up to seven were hurt in the incident.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service reported the three fatalities.
Beilinson hospital in Petah Tikva said it had received two victims, one in a critical condition and another in a serious condition. The Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan said it had received a victim who was listed in serious condition.
MDA said another person was slightly hurt “during a fight with the terrorists.”
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According to police officials, Elad residents said two men attacked passersby at a park in the city.
One of the attackers used a firearm and the other had an axe or a large knife, witnesses said. MDA said the injuries did not appear to be from gunfire.
Medics at the scene of a suspseted terror attack in Elad, on May 5, 2022. (United Hatzalah)
Police said it launched a manhunt for the two suspects, blocking off several roads in the area. In a statement, police said a helicopter was being used to search for a vehicle that fled the scene.
Local authorities ordered residents of Elad to remain in their homes.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and military chief Aviv Kohavi were holding a situational assessment following the attack, Gantz’s office said.
Palestinian terror groups praised the attack, although none immediately took responsibility.
The Hamas terror group called the attack “a heroic operation,” and said it came in response to Jewish Israelis visiting the Temple Mount holy site earlier Thursday. “Our people will continue their struggle and their defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque with every means. Their blows will strike the Zionists and the settlers wherever they are,” said Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou.
In a recent speech, Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar threatened violent consequences should Israelis continue visiting the site. He also called on West Bank Palestinians to commit individual attacks against Israelis.
“This is the practical implementation of what the resistance warned: Al-Aqsa is a red line,” Hamas official Hazem Qasim said.
Islamic Jihad also praised the deadly attack as a “heroic operation.”
“For settler gangs to defile Al-Aqsa — this crosses red lines,” senior terror group member Mohammad Hmeid said.
The scene of a terror attack in Elad, on May 5, 2022. (Hatzalah)
The attack came as tensions have risen sharply between Israel and the Palestinians in recent weeks against the backdrop of repeated terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank that left 16 others dead.
The army has stepped up its West Bank activities in an attempt to crack down on the spiraling violence. The ensuing raids sparked clashes that left at least 26 Palestinians dead, many of whom took part in the clashes, while others appeared to have been uninvolved civilians.
Following a deadly attack in the West Bank city of Ariel last Friday, the Hamas terror group vowed that it “will not be the last one.”
Earlier Thursday, Palestinians clashed with police on the Temple Mount after the site was reopened for Jews after a two-week closure. Hamas had threatened to retaliate if Jewish visitors were allowed to “storm” the holy site.
Palestinians and Israeli forces have clashed repeatedly at the Temple Mount over the past few weeks. The violence echoed scenes from last year, when rioting at the site helped spark a war between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups led by Hamas.
Ever since the May 2021 war, Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, has threatened to fire rockets at Israel if it violated the organization’s “red lines” in Jerusalem. The terror group has hailed its “deterrence” against Israel in the contested capital as a key achievement of the war, which wrought widespread destruction in Gaza.
Hamas’s Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, said on Saturday that the terror group “will not hesitate to take any steps” if Israel “violates” Al-Aqsa Mosque.
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