At least 2 dead in attack at Tel Aviv bar, police say

Israeli security and rescue personnels work by the entrance to a restaurant following an incident in Tel Aviv on April 7.

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – A suspected Arab gunman killed at least two people in an attack at a bar on a main Tel Aviv boulevard on Thursday, police and hospital officials said, the latest in a string of deadly street assaults that have shaken Israel.

Mayor Ron Huldai said the shooting, at the start of the weekend in Israel, was suspected to have been carried out by an Arab attacker with “nationalistic” motives who entered a pub and opened fire. Three other people were seriously wounded.

Hundreds of emergency responders arrived on the scene and police, searching for the shooter, told residents to stay indoors.

Television footage showed armed officers running down Dizengoff Street, a crowded street of shops, bars and restaurants, and side alleys trying to track down the attacker. A police helicopter shined a spotlight from above.

“A terrorist opened fire at short range and then fled on foot. Several people are wounded,” police spokesman Eli Levy said on Channel 13 television. “Don’t leave your homes. Don’t stick your heads out of the window. Stay off your balconies.”

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas praised the attack.

At nearby Ichilov hospital, Mark Malfiev, 27, was being treated for a gunshot wound. He said he was passing by the bar when the shooting started.

“I saw the window shatter, people suddenly started running, and I felt getting hit in the back,” he told reporters from a hospital bed. “I felt a lot of blood. I saw blood.”

Prior to Thursday’s shooting, 11 people had been killed by Arab attackers in Israel over the past month, the sharpest spike in years.

“Horrified to see another cowardly terror attack on innocent civilians, this time in Tel Aviv. Praying for peace, and sending condolences to the victims and their families. This has to stop!” U.S. Ambassador Tom Nides said on Twitter.