Police Chief Kobi Shabtai praised the four armed bystanders who chased and brought down the Palestinian terrorist after he shot and injured three people at a restaurant on Tel Aviv’s popular Dizengoff St. on Thursday night, March 9. The night spots were bustling with crowds of Purim revelers and demonstrators who were marking a day of “resistance” against the government’s judicial overhaul plan.
“Their fast reaction saved many lives,” said the police chief in praise of a reserve IDF officer, an off-duty police officer and two cops, who shot the terrorist in mid-flight. The Ichilov hospital reports that one of the three victims, all in their thirties, is not yet out of danger, while the other two though badly hurt are in stable condition.
The shooter was identified as Mufaz Salah al-Khawaja, from the Palestinian town of Ni’lin near Ramallah, who has served two sentences in Israeli jails. Overnight his father and brother were arrested and, on the orders of Defense Minister Yoav Galant, their home was mapped ready for demolition.
The Hamas terrorist group claimed him as a member of its armed wing but did not claim responsibility for the attack. His action was said to be in response to Palestinian deaths in Israel’s recent counter-terror military raids.
It took place in the tenth week of massive rallies and marches against government legislation aimed at limiting the powers of the High Court. Tens of thousands waving national flags jammed highways and the main streets of Tel Aviv and rallied in many other locations across the country. After the attack, Mayor Huldai ordered everyone to clear the streets for the police and security forces to ensure the danger was over.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided to continue the program of his Italian trip, after being updated on the shooting while attending a reception at the Spanish Synagogue in Rome. He sent prayers for the injured men’s recovery and praised security forces for their prompt action. On Friday, he is due to meet his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni. US Ambassador Tom Nides tweeted that he was “shocked by tonight’s brazen terrorist attack in Tel Aviv that targeted innocent people. Praying for those who were injured.”