JERUSALEM — Two Palestinian gunmen opened fire near a popular open-air market in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, killing three Israelis and wounding at least five others before being detained, Israel police said.
“Two terrorists opened fire at civilians,” Tel Aviv district police commander Moshe Edri said, adding that one of the detained attackers was being treated for a gunfire wound.
Police had initially said there might be a third attacker but later ruled that out. Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said four of the wounded Israelis are in critical condition.
Meital Sassi told Channel 10 TV she was out with her family celebrating her son’s birthday at the Sarona market when she heard shots and “immediately understood it was a terror attack.”
“We ran like lighting with the baby and the stroller,” she said. “I yelled at people who didn’t understand what was happening to run.”
The Ynet news website showed CCTV footage of civilians running into a nearby restaurant to take cover.
Shlomi Hajaj, director of the market, told Channel 10 that security guards at the entrance “prevented the attackers from entering the facility, averting a bigger disaster as the compound was packed with people.”
Channel 10 cited witnesses as saying the two attackers were dressed in suits and ties and spent time in a nearby restaurant, sitting at the bar, before the attack. It showed footage of forensic teams dressed in white suits examining items in restaurants at the scene.
Police said the two gunmen were members of the same family from the Palestinian village of Yatta, near the West Bank town of Hebron, which has been a flashpoint for violence in recent months.
Over the last eight months Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, have killed 31 Israelis and two Americans. About 200 Palestinians have been killed during that time, most identified as attackers by Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his defense minister and security leaders shortly after the attack.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner condemned the “horrific terrorist attack” in a statement, saying “cowardly attacks against innocent civilians can never be justified.”