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Police chief: We were determined to get him 'dead or alive'

After massive manhunt, security forces find and kill Tel Aviv terrorist in firefight

Assailant, identified as Palestinian from Jenin, found hiding near Jaffa mosque; Shin Bet says he had no ‘clear organizational affiliation’ or previous criminal record

Israeli soldiers search at the scene of a terror attack on Dizengoff street, central Tel Aviv, April 7, 2022. Two people were killed and several more injured in the attack. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers search at the scene of a terror attack on Dizengoff street, central Tel Aviv, April 7, 2022. Two people were killed and several more injured in the attack. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The terrorist who carried out the deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv was killed in a shootout early Friday following a massive, hours-long manhunt across the coastal city.

The man, later identified as 28-year-old Ra’ad Hazem from Jenin in the northern West Bank, was killed by officers from the Yamam police counter-terrorism unit and Shin Bet security service after he was found hiding near a mosque in Jaffa, some 3.5 miles from the scene of his deadly attack.

According to a security source quoted by the Haaretz daily, the Shin Bet located Hazem when they arrived at the mosque to look at security camera footage.

There were no Israeli casualties in the gun battle.

According to the Shin Bet, Hazem did not have a “clear organizational affiliation” or any criminal record.

The security service said the investigation into the attack was continuing.

“After a long, difficult night of activity by the police, Shin Bet and IDF, we succeeded this morning — with operational and intelligence cooperation — to close the circle and kill the terrorist in an exchange of fire,” Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said Friday morning.

“We emphasized last night that no matter how long it took we would find the terrorist, dead or alive,” Shabtai said. “And when we found him this morning it required a quick reaction from the Yamam and Shin Bet forces in Jaffa.”

Ra’ad Hazem, 29, from the Jenin area, the terrorist who carried out a deadly shooting at a Tel Aviv bar on April 7 2022. (Courtesy)

“We operated along two main paths, operational and intelligence, and this morning both led to the end of this rolling operation.”

“We are continuing with our top-level alert for the Israel Police in all regions and sectors, including the safeguarding of the first Friday prayers of Ramadan,” he added. “We will react with a large deployment and force to any unusual instances as we did in Tel Aviv and we will hunt anyone who harms or tries to harm the citizens of Israel.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised security forces for finding and killing the assailant.

“We maintain maximum alertness, within Tel Aviv and throughout the country, for fear of further incidents or attacks,” he said.

“The entire nation of Israel mourns the grief of the families of those killed and prays for the health of the wounded. Our war on murderous terrorism is long and hard. We will win.”

Bennett was set to hold a situation assessment with security officials later in the day, his office said.

Police and rescue workers at the scene of a terror attack on Dizengoff street, central Tel Aviv, April 7, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Two people were killed and several were wounded on Thursday evening when Hazem opened fire on a bar in central Tel Aviv, the latest eruption of violence to strike Israel in recent weeks.

The shooting took place on Dizengoff Street, turning an area crowded with people out on a Thursday night at bars, restaurants and cafes, into a scene of chaos and panic.

The attack began when the gunman walked up to Ilka, a popular bar with a large outside seating section, and opened fire.

Ten people were rushed to the nearby Ichilov Hospital with gunshot wounds, two of whom were later declared dead, the hospital said. They were both reported to be civilians in their 20s.

The hospital said Friday morning it was continuing to treat eight people wounded in the attack, including a man in critical condition still facing “an immediate danger to his life.”

According to the hospital, three others who were in critical condition “were no longer in danger” and were being treated in ICUs.

The other four were listed as being light to moderately wounded.

As the street filled with ambulances and rescuers, police and soldiers carried out searches for the gunman.

The manhunt, which lasted for nearly nine hours, included at least 1,000 police and IDF reinforcements combing the area for the attacker. IDF special forces — including units from the IDF’s Sayeret Matkal and Shaldag units — were deployed to the city to help with the efforts.

Israeli soldiers search at the scene of a deadly terror attack on Dizengoff street, central Tel Aviv, April 7, 2022. Two people were killed and several more injured in the attack. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Throughout the night, security forces urged Tel Aviv residents to stay inside while they conducted the manhunt, going door to door and house to house, looking for any suspicious individuals walking around.

Israeli leaders had raised fears of a fresh outbreak of Palestinian terror in recent weeks and vowed to crack down while also attempting to avoid heightening Palestinian anger during the holy month of Ramadan.

The shooting broke a tense calm that had set in since March 28, when a Palestinian man opened fire in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, killing five people. Attacks days before in Hadera and Beersheba, thought to have been inspired by the Islamic State, left six others dead.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Hamas terror group called it a “heroic operation” that constitutes a “natural and legitimate response to the escalation of the occupation’s crimes.”

It vowed that “resistance” against Israel “is continuing and escalating,” without explicitly taking responsibility for the attack, noting its opposition to Jewish pilgrims visiting the Temple Mount during the Passover holiday, which coincides with Ramadan this year.

An Islamic Jihad official also praised the attack.

Members of Israel’s Zaka Rescue and Recovery team clean blood from the site of a shooting attack In Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 7, 2022. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

Foreign envoys swiftly condemned the attack.

“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,” tweeted US Ambassador Tom Nides.

Tor Wennesland, the UN envoy for Middle East peace, said he was appalled by the attack and condemned Hamas for celebrating it.

“There is no glory in terror. These acts must stop now & be condemned by all,” he tweeted.

EU Ambassador Dimitar Tzantchev called the attack “appalling.”

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