Five people were killed by a Palestinian terrorist in a shooting attack in the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) city of Bnei Brak on Tuesday night.
The shooting was first reported around 8:00 p.m. on HaShnaim Street. One person was found lifeless in a car and two other people were shot dead on a nearby sidewalk. A video later circulating on social media showed the attacker yelling in Arabic, shooting bystanders with an assault rifle on a residential street.
Another Israeli was found dead on Herzl street, perpendicular to HaShnaim Street. Yaakov Shalom, a Bnei Brak resident and father of five, and rabbi Avishai Yehezkeli, a yeshiva teacher and father of two, were identified as two of the five people killed in the attack. Alexander and Dmitry, two workers from Ukraine, were also identified as victims of the attack.
The shooter was later shot dead by a police officer who arrived at the scene on a motorcycle.
The shooter was identified as Dia Hamarsha, 27, from the village of Ya’bad in the northern West Bank near Jenin. He was jailed for six months in 2015 for dealing in illegal firearms and affiliation with a terrorist group, and had worked illegally at a Bnei Brak construction site.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz called an emergency conference with security and intelligence chiefs to try and re-evaluate national policy and adapt it to countering a new kind of terrorism. The failure of intelligence to alert the system to the three fatal incidents points to holes in the long-tried counter-terrorism methods of the Shin Bet security service, that may have become obsolete for handling the contemporary generation of terrorists. A common factor in all three was that all the perpetrators were on the books of the security authorities and two at least served time for security offenses. Yet their conspiracies were not picked up.
Another lapse that should have been fixed long ago was the multiple breaches in the security fence boundary between the West Bank and Israel, which allows tens of thousands of Palestinian workers to jump across into Israel day by day – illegally and unhindered.
This time of the year is especially sensitive. Wednesday, March 30, is Land Day, marked by Israeli Arabs as the anniversary of a violent anti-Israel protest, while the Muslim festival of Ramadan is due to begin at the end of this week. The Jewish Passover festival occurs next month, followed by Israel’s Independence Day.