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Fearful of repeat attack, Tel Aviv bolsters security at schools

City says it will increase patrols around educational institutes after gunmen kill 4 at Sarona Market; neighboring Ramat Gan follows suit

Israeli medical and security forces at the scene of a terrorist attack at the Sarona Market shopping center, Tel Aviv, June 8, 2016. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Israeli medical and security forces at the scene of a terrorist attack at the Sarona Market shopping center, Tel Aviv, June 8, 2016. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

Tel Aviv and the adjoining city of Ramat Gan will deploy extra security to schools and other institutions Thursday, a day after terror struck a popular shopping and dining complex in the heart of central Israel.

In Tel Aviv, security will be increased around schools and other educational sites with a focus on kindergartens as well as municipal buildings. Police will also up their presence at other crowded locations in the city.

Ramat Gan, which abuts Tel Aviv, said it will likewise increase police patrols near educational institutes and construction sites in the city. The municipality also planned to up security near the diamond center business district and other areas where crowds gather.

Officials called on residents to be alert to any suspicious activity they encounter.

Four people were killed and 16 more injured when two Palestinian terrorists opened fire inside a restaurant in the Sarona Market shopping complex in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday night. The two gunmen, who were in Israel illegally, were caught shortly after the attack.

Three of the victims remained in intensive care Thursday morning at nearby Ichilov Hospital, along with one of the attackers who was shot by a security guard, according to a hospital spokesperson.

The decision to up security near building sites likely stems from the high concentration of Palestinian laborers who work in the construction industry. Building sites have in the past been the site or starting point for terror attacks.

While the Defense Ministry revoked permits for Palestinians to visit Israel over the Ramadan holy month in response to the attack Thursday, work permits were largely left unaffected, as in the aftermath of previous terror attacks.

Israeli police officers search for a gunman near the scene of a shooting attack in Tel Aviv, January 1, 2016. (AP/Oded Balilty)
Israeli police officers search for a gunman near the scene of a shooting attack in Tel Aviv, January 1, 2016. (AP/Oded Balilty)

Following a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv in January 1, many parents in the city and surrounding suburbs kept their kids home from school over fears of a new attack, though in that case gunman Nashat Milhelm remained on the loose for several days before being caught near his home in northern Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night vowed “decisive action” to track down those responsible for what was the third deadly attack in Tel Aviv this year.

The two suspects were named in Palestinian media reports as Muhammad and Khalid Muhamra. One of the men was shot by a security guard and seriously injured, the second was arrested by police and taken in for questioning. The Hamas terror organization claimed the two as members.

In an official statement on Twitter early on Thursday, Hamas praised the shooting as “heroic” and intimated that more attacks would follow over the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which started this week.

The two 21-year-old men from the West Bank village of Yatta, near Hebron, had no criminal record.

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