A Manhunt Is Under Way For Two Palestinians Suspected Of Killing Three Israelis In An Axe And Knife Attack In Central Israel.
It happened in the predominantly ultra-Orthodox Jewish town of Elad on Thursday night. Seven others were wounded, two seriously.
It is the latest in a wave of deadly attacks in Israel by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since late March.
Israel has carried out raids in the occupied West Bank in response.
Israeli police said the Palestinians who carried out the attack in Elad came from the district of Jenin in the northern West Bank.
Crossings into Israel from the West Bank have been closed since Tuesday as a security measure while Israel marked its annual memorial and independence days this week.
The attackers struck in a park in Elad where families had gathered to celebrate Independence Day, and on a main street.
“We were in the synagogue when the warden shouted: ‘Terrorist! Terrorist!’,” an eyewitness named Mordechai Chachmon said, the Times of Israel reported.
“We went outside and we saw [an attacker] running along a path… and hitting anyone in front of him with an axe to the head. Both of [the attackers] were shouting Allahu Akbar [God is greatest].”
A man aged 35 and two 40-year-old men were killed. Two were fathers of five children each and the third a father of six.
The attackers are reported to have fled the scene in a vehicle. Police have set up roadblocks and deployed a helicopter in the search for the suspects.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the attackers would be caught and would “pay the price”.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “condemned the killing of Israeli civilians” in Elad, but warned against “using” the incident to attack Palestinians, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
Meanwhile the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, praised what it called an “heroic operation”. It said it was in response to Israeli action taken at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, which has been the scene of frequent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.
The killings came days after Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar called for continued attacks on Israelis including with “cleaver… axe or knife” in a message which was widely circulated on social media.
Israel had already bolstered its forces on the boundary with the West Bank and stepped up operations against militants there, including in and around Jenin, where two Palestinians who carried out recent deadly attacks in Israel had come from.
Seventeen Israelis, including an Israeli Arab policeman, and two Ukrainians have been killed in the attacks in Israel and the West Bank since 21 March. At least 26 Palestinians, including the attackers, have been killed in Israeli raids and confrontations since then.
It has coincided with rising tensions over the flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as the al-Aqsa mosque compound and Jews as the Temple Mount. The site has seen recurrent violence over the past month, with Palestinian radicals throwing stones and setting off fireworks towards Israeli police and an adjacent Jewish holy site, and police using force to disperse them.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a security consultation tonight.
The chain of events of the terrorist attack that took place in Elad was presented, as were the efforts currently underway to locate the terrorists.https://t.co/lAJuKIcpcH
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) May 5, 2022