Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday said Israeli security forces would remain on high alert after killing the terrorist that carried out the deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv, vowing “no limitations” on Israel’s response.
“This is exactly what is expected from our fighters,” Bennett said in a live address from military headquarters in Tel Aviv alongside Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev. “If they wouldn’t have caught him and took him down now, this could have stretched out for several days.”
His comments came after two people were killed and numerous others wounded in a shooting attack Thursday on Dizengoff Street as it was crowded with Israelis marking the end of the work week at restaurants, bars and cafes.
The terrorist, a Palestinian from Jenin in the northern West Bank, was killed Friday morning in a firefight with security forces.
“We’re not lowering our alert level in Tel Aviv or across Israel,” Bennett said.
The premier pledged full backing for the security services following the attack, which followed several other recent deadly terror assaults in Israeli cities.
“We grant full freedom of action to the IDF, the Shin Bet and all security forces in order to eradicate terrorism. There are and will be no restrictions in this war,” he said.
The prime minister also expressed condolences to the families of the two young men who were killed and wished for a speedy recovery of those wounded, while vowing that terrorists will face the consequences of their actions.
“We know that it was a 29-year-old terrorist, from Jenin, not affiliated to a [terror] group, but somebody helped him in organizing and obtaining the weapons,” Bennett said.
“Every murderer knows we will find them, everyone who helps a terrorist should know that they will pay a heavy price,” he added. “I saw the father of the terrorist inciting to more violence and being proud of his son the murderer. We saw the celebrations and the handing out of sweets in Jenin and Gaza. These are the people we are dealing with. No, this not just a few individuals,” he added.
Bennett said that such terrorists and their supporters “want to break our spirits, but they will not succeed, we will never break.”
He also urged media outlets to act responsibly, implicitly criticizing aspects of the coverage from Israeli news networks.
“Do not sow unnecessary panic in the public, this isn’t a reality show, but our life.”
Speaking after Bennett, Gantz praised the Palestinian Authority for condemning the attack and called on Ramallah to help stem the wave of terrorism.
“It’s good that the Palestinian Authority condemned the attack,” Gantz said. “My request is that, alongside condemnations, activities against the perpetrators of terrorism should be expanded in all sectors.”
Gantz said the IDF will work diligently to foil terrorist attacks and increase its operations. According to the defense minister, the IDF has already carried out around 200 arrests “and if necessary we will arrest thousands.”
“We are not punishing the entire [Palestinian] public — but security comes first,” he said.
Gantz added: “Israeli society is experienced in wars and waves of terrorism. I call on the citizens to maintain their daily routine as much as possible. Our victory will also be in maintaining Israeli resilience.”
Last to speak was Barlev, who hailed the security forces for swiftly catching the perpetrator of the Tel Aviv attack and thwarting others.
“During the night, the security forces acted with remarkable speed and professionalism when they located the terrorist, engaged and then eliminated him,” Barlev said.
“In recent weeks, the State of Israel has seen [numerous] terrorist attacks by bloodthirsty murderers,” the minister continued. “This is a sensitive period in which the security forces are working in all sectors to stop this wave of terrorism. Israeli police officers, the IDF and the Shin Bet are working resolutely and vigorously, thwarting many terrorist attacks aimed at reaching centers of our cities.”
“We will reach every home, every hiding place and act everywhere to eradicate terrorism. We will not allow any terrorist or anyone who helps him to live one moment in peace, and we will get our hands on them, dead or alive.”
He also noted the latest attack occurred during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“We are in the period of Ramadan, which is a very sensitive period. We have no intention of disrupting the day-to-day life of those who seek to fulfill the religious obligations or continue to work as usual, but we will act vigorously against anyone who takes advantage of this to carry out terrorist attacks,” Barlev said.
Israeli leaders have raised fears of a fresh outbreak of 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 in Tel Aviv 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, by Israelis thought to have been inspired by the Islamic State, left six others dead.