Authorities early Wednesday identified three of the five victims of a deadly terror shooting spree in Bnei Brak the previous night, including two young fathers and a police officer who helped kill the gunman.
The victims were named as officer Amir Khoury, 32, a Christian Arab; and local residents Yaakov Shalom, 36, and Avishai Yehezkel, 29.
The two other victims were foreign workers from Ukraine who had not been identified by Wednesday afternoon.
Khoury, an Arab Israeli from the northern town of Nof Hagalil, served on the Bnei Brak police station’s motorcyclist responders team.
Khoury was part of a team of two motorcycle officers who caught up with the gunman and killed him, ending the deadly shooting spree.
Khoury was hit in the exchange of fire and later died after being rushed to the Beilinson Medical Center, officials said.
Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai spoke later with Khoury’s father, Jarris. The father told Shabtai that they are a police family and that he was a veteran of the Tel Aviv police department.
Shabtai said his son’s death, confronting the attacker, was “a great tragedy for the police.”
“Alongside the tragedy, it is important for me to tell you that your son saved the lives of many civilians,” Shabtai says. “His actions will become a legacy and memory of heroism for the whole country.”
Khoury leaves behind his parents and two sisters.
Bnei Brak resident Shalom was also named as a victim.
Shalom was driving home when he was stopped by the gunman, who opened fire on his vehicle from a close range.
Haredi media reported that Shalom was the son of Rabbi Meir Shalom, a prominent leader of the Yemenite community in Beni Brak, who died last year of COVID.
His funeral will depart from the family home at 11 a.m. Wednesday. He is survived by his mother, wife and four children, Behadrei Hadarim reported.
The third victim was named as fellow Bnei Brak resident Yehezkel.
Haredi media reports said that Yehezkel, a Yeshiva student, had taken his 2-year-old son for an evening walk in his stroller when he was shot, while trying to protect the boy.
He is survived by his wife, who is eight months pregnant, and his son.
His funeral will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the city.
Security officials identified the terrorist as Diaa Hamarsheh, 26, a Palestinian from the town of Ya’bad near Jenin in the West Bank who was in Israel illegally. TV reports said there were celebrations outside his family home and in other Palestinian cities later Tuesday.
Hamarsheh arrived in Bnei Brak in a vehicle and disembarked on Jabotinsky Street at 7:56 p.m, according to Channel 13.
While standing in front of a local store, he pulled out his weapon and tried to fire at passersby, barely missing a pedestrian and a man on his bicycle.
The attacker then continued to Bialik Street, but did not find anyone there, so he moved on to a nearby grocery store where he shot dead two people.
Hamarsheh continued to fire at passersby, but his gun jammed briefly. A car being driven by Shalom then passed by. Hamarsheh shouted “stop” as he pointed his rifle through the window and fired, killing Shalom.
At this point, six minutes had passed since the start of the killing spree. Hamarsheh then proceeded to Herzl Street, where he shot Yehezkel, who was protecting his child from the gunfire.
As Hamarsheh continued down Herzl Street, two officers on a police motorcycle confronted him and began firing. Hamarsheh returned fire, striking Khoury, who later died of his wounds.
The second officer succeeded in killing Hamarsheh, bringing an end to the deadly spree.
The attack, the third deadly terror incident in a week, underlined concerns about an escalating wave of violence ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“Israel is facing a wave of murderous Arab terrorism,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said late Tuesday. “The security forces are at work. We will fight terrorism with persistence, diligence and an iron fist.”