Israeli leaders vowed on Sunday to fight terror with “full force” after two people were killed and several others were wounded in a shooting attack in the northern city of Hadera. The two terrorists, both Israeli Arabs from Umm al-Fahm, were shot dead.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited the police station in Hadera following the deadly attack. He spoke with one of the undercover officers who killed the assailants, and later held a briefing with security chiefs.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who was hosting a diplomatic summit with the foreign ministers of the UAE, Morocco, Egypt, Bahrain and the US at Sde Boker in the Negev, updated the dignitaries on the attack.
“All the foreign ministers denounced the terror attack and asked to send condolences to the families and wishes for the recovery of the wounded,” Lapid said in a statement.
“Tonight’s heinous terror attack is an attempt by violent extremists to terrorize and to damage the fabric of life here. I send my condolences to the families of the murdered, and my wishes for recovery to the wounded.”
Also at the summit, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attack and sent condolences to the families of the victims.
We condemn today’s terrorist attack in Hadera, Israel. Such senseless acts of violence and murder have no place in society. We stand with our Israeli partners and send our condolences to the families of the victims.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 27, 2022
“We will not put up with terrorism in the State of Israel and we will fight it with full force,” Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said. “A difficult and painful evening. I express my deep sorrow to the families of the murdered and send my best wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israeli security forces are “spread out and on alert” throughout the country following the attack.
“The Israel Defense Forces and all other security forces are spread out and on alert with all of the tools [needed] to restore calm and ensure the security of citizens of Israel in every place and on every front. We will act aggressively against terror and terrorists, and we will advance the continued reinforcement of troops in the field,” Gantz said.
The defense minister makes his remarks following a meeting with top security officials, including the IDF Chief of Staff, commander of Military Intelligence, head of the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police commissioner.
Gantz praised the plainclothes Border Police officers who shot dead the two terrorists who carried out the shooting attack and wished a speedy recovery to the people who were injured.
While the names of the suspected terrorists were widely published, and remained readily available online, police later Sunday secured a sweeping gag order from an Acre court that barred the publication of “any details of the investigation and any details that could identify the suspects.”
Police said the attackers arrived at the scene with 1,100 bullets, as well as at least three handguns and six knives. A video circulating on social media was said to show the two terrorists embracing in front of an Islamic State flag before the attack. The identity of the people in the video could not be independently verified.
Security forces were examining whether the gunmen were somehow connected to the fatal terror attack that occurred in Beersheba last week. The terrorist in that attack, who killed four people before he was shot dead, had served time for activities linked to Islamic State. He was also an Israeli citizen.
Police officers entered the city of Umm al-Fahm shortly after the attack to search for suspects.
“The Umm al-Fahm municipality expresses deep shock, condemns the horrific act, and condemns any act of violence. The municipality shares the grief of the families of those killed in Hadera, and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded,” the municipality said in a statement.
“A very difficult evening. Heartfelt condolences to the families of the murdered and best wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded,” Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said on Twitter. “The abandonment of governance in the last decade, the proliferation of illegal weapons in the Arab sector and the avoidance of legislation against incitement on social media have an unbearable price, as we experienced tonight. We must change this reality.”
Communications Minister Yoaz Handel that the attack, which occurred shortly before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, was the result of a “will to kill Jews — a will which has existed throughout history and never dies.”
“No settler violence and no other excuses, no internal quarrels and no politics — the only reaction is an iron wall,” Handel said in an apparent jab at US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for comments he made earlier in the day.
“We knew difficult situations, we will exert our price and win.”
The Islamist Ra’am party condemned the terror attack in Hadera, saying that “this is abominable ISIS-style terror that does not reflect Arab society, whose members seek to live with dignity and according to the rule of law.”
Party chief Mansour Abbas said: “I call on all the educational, political, and religious leaders in Arab society to work together to determine practical steps to deal with this challenge of [these] criminals, who are stray weeds in Arab society.”
Said Labor’s leader Merav Michaeli: “A terrible, tough evening. Deepest condolences to the families of those murdered and wishes for the recovery of those injured. We will continue to fight terror relentlessly. The contrast between the appalling act in Hadera and the Negev Summit reminds us again that peace and normality have enemies. We must not allow them to prevail.”
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said that only “a strong and aggressive hand” can restore security for the citizens of Israel.
Likud MK Yuli Edelstein called for the state to use “the full might of its security forces.”
Likud MK Nir Barkat called on the government to amend its policy regarding the acquisition and use of firearms for self-defense.
“The government must allow retired combat soldiers to receive a gun license immediately, in order to neutralize a terrorist as quickly as possible,” he said.
“I call upon all those who have a license to carry a firearm to kill terrorists as quickly as possible. The police alone cannot handle these challenges, so now the citizenry was bear the burden.”
The Joint List, a mainly Arab opposition party, condemned the “shocking” and “unjustified” attack.
“The murderous attack in Hadera today is a shocking crime. There is and can be no justification for harming civilians. These acts have nothing to do with the political struggle that the Arab public is waging for its rights. This is not his way and neither will he be,” the party said in a statement.
“The Arab public is far from ISIS and its radical and dangerous doctrine and it has condemned this doctrine for many years. Our way is a non-violent struggle, so it was and so it will be. In these difficult times, we call on the public, Arabs and Jews, to act responsibly.”
Numerous other right-wing opposition MKs criticized the government over the attack.
“Just like in the days of Oslo [Accords], smiling photographs of disconnected politicians at summits, will the streets fill with the victims of ‘peace,’” MK Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, wrote on Twitter.
Smotrich’s fellow Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben-Gvir also hit out at the government, drawing a link to Ra’am.
“We said and warned, a government that depends on the Islamic movement will end up severely damaging the security of the country and that is what is happening,” he said.
“The government tramples on the security of the state’s residents. Great state management Bennett! Go Away!”
Both the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror groups praised the two gunmen.
“We commend the valor and courage of the perpetrators of this heroic operation, which comes as retaliation for the blood of the martyrs, and in response to the aggression and terror of the occupation,” Hamas said in a statement.
“The heroic Hadera operation came in response to the summit of humiliation and shame in the occupied Negev,” said senior PIJ official Khalid al-Batsh in an interview with the Palestine Today channel.
Neither terror group claimed the terrorists as members.