The Israel Defense Forces operated Saturday night in the West Bank village of Rummanah, near Jenin, to measure the home of the terrorist who killed a security guard in Tel Aviv, in preparation for its possible demolition.
The Palestinian gunman, Kamel Abu Bakr, 22, shot and critically injured a municipal security officer in central Tel Aviv Saturday as the latter approached him with his partner after Abu Bakr raised their suspicions.
Abu Bakr, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, was then shot dead by the patrol officer’s colleague. The wounded guard, 42-year-old father of three Chen Amir, was rushed to a hospital but later died of his injuries.
Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as a matter of policy. The process usually lasts several months, including court hearings for potential appeals by the families. The efficacy of the policy has been hotly debated even within the Israeli security establishment, while human rights activists denounce the practice as unjust collective punishment.
The IDF said that during the operation to map out Abu Bakr’s home, a Palestinian rioter hurled an explosive device toward troops. The soldiers, who were unharmed, returned fire, the IDF said.
According to the Shin Bet, Abu Bakr had been hiding in the Jenin refugee camp for the past six months. He had been wanted by Israeli security forces for opening fire at IDF troops in the West Bank. Abu Bakr did not have an entry permit to Israel due to his affiliation with Islamic Jihad and the previous shooting attack. The agency was investigating how he entered Israel.
عاجل| مصادر عبرية: "ارتقاء كامل أبو بكر، منفذ عملية تل أبيب، وهو من قرية رمانة غرب جنين". pic.twitter.com/0mZSmYO3ZN
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) August 5, 2023
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai told media at the scene that the suspect had a “martyrdom” letter on him, adding that “he came to be a martyr.”
Shabtai said the two Tel Aviv municipal security officers approached a suspect they saw walking at the corner of the Montefiore and Nachalat Binyamin streets, where dozens of restaurants, cafes, and bars are packed on Saturday evenings.
The suspect initially refused to answer their calls, and as the pair got off their motorcycles, he pulled out a handgun and opened fire, hitting Amir, according to law enforcement officials. The second officer returned fire at the gunman, neutralizing him.
Both Amir and the terrorist were taken to Ichilov Medical Center, where they were declared dead.
The officer who shot the gunman said he and his partner spotted the suspect standing near a bar with a backpack. “He didn’t make eye contact as we approached him on our noisy motorcycles, which increased our suspicions,” the officer told Shabtai at the scene.
“My partner was first, he managed to prop up his motorcycle, but at the same moment the terrorist pulled out a handgun and started shooting at my partner,” the officer said.
“I pulled out my handgun and fired at him. He also tried to fire a bullet or two at me but they didn’t hit. I chased after him and continued shooting until he fell to the ground,” the officer added.
Shabtai hailed the officer, saying that “there is no doubt that your quick and professional action saved a life.”
“A few meters away from us you can see the crowded cafes and understand the magnitude of the disaster that was avoided. It is thanks to your vigilance and engaging [the gunman],” Shabtai added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Amir “stopped with his own body a major attack and saved many lives.” Bat Yam Mayor Tzvika Brot lauded Amir as a “hero [who] thwarted the attack and gave his life to save others.”
The shooting came as tensions have remained high across the region, amid a string of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank which have left 26 people dead and several others seriously wounded since the beginning of the year, including Saturday’s shooting.
According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 164 West Bank Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year — most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances, including in cases by Israeli settlers.
Also early Sunday morning, the military said it had received reports of gunfire near the West Bank settlement of Avnei Hefetz. After scanning the scene, troops found a bullet, the IDF said, adding that it had launched a manhunt for the Palestinian gunman.