Border Police officers Yezen Falah and Shirel Abukarat, both 19, were murdered when two bearded Arab gunmen opened fire with assault rifles at civilians and police officers at a bus stop last night in Hadera.
By Erin Viner
At least 12 other Israelis were injured in the attack that was finally ended when the assailants were shot dead by special undercover forces who were dining at a nearby restaurant and rushed to the scene after hearing the shooting.
“Luckily, our officers managed to neutralize the assailants and prevent a bigger terrorist attack,” National Police Spokesman Eli Levy said on Israel’s Kan television.
The terrorists were identified as Arab residents of Umm el-Fahm who reportedly posted a video on Facebook before the attack swearing allegiance to the Islamic State. A gag order has been placed on the release of further details at this time.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Hadera, an Israeli city about bout 50 km (30 miles) north of Tel Aviv; as well as last week’s deadly multi-prong assault by an ISIS-supporting Arab Bedouin in Beersheba.
Four Israelis were murdered in a stabbing and car ramming spree in the southern city on 22 March, in what was the deadliest attack in years. The assailant was fatally shot by a passerby.
Israel’s security establishment has been warning of a potential outbreak of violence leading up to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins later this week.
Riots in Jerusalem last year during Ramadan triggered the 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls conflict with Gaza, which fired over 4,000 rockets at the Jewish State.
A short time ago, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held an assessment of the security situation with the participation of Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel Security Agency Director Ronen Bar, Police Commissioner Yaakov “Kobi” Shabtai, the Deputy Attorney General and additional officials.
The Premier emphasized that this is “a new situation that requires the security establishment to prepare and adapt to circumstances in which extremist segments of the Arab sector, guided by an extreme Islamist ideology, engage in terrorism and harm human lives,” according to a statement from his office obtained by TV7.
Pursuant to the operational and intelligence updates with which he was presented, Prime Minister Bennett issued the following directives:
The continuation of extensive operational efforts with a variety of means (including judicial, economic, intelligence and digital) in all areas, including open and covert investigations, in order to prevent additional incidents and deal with those who aid and abet the carrying out of terrorist attacks to the fullest extent of the law; the immediate reinforcement of all security elements, especially at points of friction, through [the 5 May] Independence Day (at this stage); expansion of the carrying of weapons by IDF conscripts and reservists; exercise of injunctions and administrative detention orders against terrorists subject to the presentation of the appropriate legal basis; monitoring the discourse on social media in order to identify those engaged in incitement and potential terrorists, and the taking of appropriate steps against them; maintenance and strengthening dialogue with public leaders and opinion-makers in the Arab sector in order to preserve stability; and continuation and expansion of Israel Police operations to seize weapons in the relevant locales.
“The heart breaks over the deaths of Border Police officers Shirel Abukarat and Yezen Falah who fell defending civilians from abhorrent murderers. We will not forget their heroism,” said Prime Minister Bennett, who had rushed to the scene of the attack last night.
“The second terrorist attack inside Israel by Islamic State supporters requires the security forces to adjust quickly to the new threat, and we will do so. I call on citizens to continue being alert. Together we will defeat this enemy as well,” he vowed.
The Prime Minister praised the members of the counterterrorism team and spoke with one of the members of the force who neutralized the terrorists.
“I have just completed a situation assessment together with the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Police Commissioner and ISA Director, following the horrifying terror attack that took place in Hadera this evening.
I would like to express tremendous appreciation for the security forces that neutralized the terrorist. I would also like to express my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured.
“The IDF and all security forces are deployed and prepared to bring back peace and quiet and to defend Israeli citizens everywhere,” said Defense Minister Gantz in a statement, underscoring that the nation’s security forces will “operate forcefully against any terror activities and any terrorist, and will continue reinforcing security on the ground.”
The Hadera attack occurred as Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid hosted the Israeli-Arab Negev Summit of his counterparts from the United States and the Arab nations of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt.
“All the Foreign Ministers condemned the attack and asked to send their condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for the recovery of the wounded,” said a statement from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which added that in light of the tragedy, the participants expressed their commitment to making the summit an annual event.