International community condemns Bnei Brak shooting, other recent terror attacks

US calls violence ‘unacceptable,’ UN chief says it can ‘never be justified’; EU ‘stands with Israel’; Germany urges strong condemnation from all to prevent ‘a new escalation’

Members of the Zaka emergency organization remove a body from the scene of a terrorist attack in Bnei Brak, March 29, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Members of the Zaka emergency organization remove a body from the scene of a terrorist attack in Bnei Brak, March 29, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The international community offered swift condemnation of a terror attack in Israel that killed five people on Tuesday evening, with top diplomats expressing their support for the country as it faces a recent spate of deadly assaults.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a condemnation within hours of the terror shooting in Bnei Brak, a suburb of Tel Aviv. The Palestinian gunman killed a police officer, two fathers, and two Ukrainian nationals.

“We strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack in Bnei Brak, Israel, that killed five innocent victims,” Blinken said in a statement.

“This comes after two other recent horrific terrorist attacks in Hadera and Be’er Sheva, Israel. This violence is unacceptable,” he said.

“Israelis — like all people around the world — should be able to live in peace and without fear. Our hearts go out to the families of those killed in the attacks,” Blinken added.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a condemnation of the recent terror wave in Israel, which has taken the lives of 11 citizens over the past week.

“Such acts of violence can never be justified and must be condemned by all,” Guterres’s office said in a statement.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres makes a statement outside the Security Council at UN headquarters, March 14, 2022. (Richard Drew/AP)

“In the spirit of the upcoming religious holy days, the secretary general calls for an immediate end to violence, which only serves to undermine the prospects for peace,” the statement said, in an apparent reference to the Muslim month of Ramadan and the weeklong Jewish festival of Passover, both of which begin in April.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, tweeted, “My thoughts continue to be with the people of Israel in the wake of the recent attacks.”

“Strongly condemning these horrific crimes and sending deepest condolences to the victims, their loved ones and prime minister @naftalibennett,” he wrote.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, “Attacks against civilians are unacceptable and must stop.

“We stand with Israel at this difficult time,” Borrell said in a statement. “The EU remains firmly committed to the prevention and fight against terrorism and violent extremism.”

The Ukrainian Embassy in Israel issued a statement condemning the “heinous” terror attack and confirmed that two Ukrainian nationals are among the five killed.

“With deep sorrow we confirm, that two citizens of Ukraine were among victims,” the embassy said in a Facebook post. “We express our condolences and sympathy to the families of the deceased. The upscale [sic] of violence and terrorism is unacceptable and it must be stopped.”

Police said the two Ukrainians, aged 23 and 32, were killed as they sat by the entrance to a grocery store on the city’s Bialik Street when terrorist Diaa Hamarsheh, 26, opened fire.

The two were not formally identified and it was unclear how long they had been in Israel.

The embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Israel, which opened after the two countries normalized ties in 2020, said it “condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Israel.”

Tweeting in English, the embassy also expressed “its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and shares its prayers to the injured and their families, wishing them a speedy recovery.”

It issued the same statement in Hebrew and Arabic.

Mourners at the funeral of Avishai Yehezkel who was killed in a terror attack in Bnei Brak, March 30, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Turkey’s embassy in Israel also denounced the attack, in a further sign of warming ties between the two nations.

“We are saddened that at least 5 people lost their lives in the terrorist attack carried out on the evening of 29 March in Bnei Brak. We condemn this terrorist attack,” the embassy tweeted.

“We are concerned that these attacks, which have increased in recent days, will drag the region back into conflict ahead of the upcoming month of Ramadan and Passover Holiday,” the tweet continued.

It was the second condemnation issued within a week by the embassy, which is still without an ambassador, in another sign that the Turkish Foreign Ministry wants to see relations with Israel back on track following President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara for a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month.

Britain’s Foreign Minister Liz Truss said in a statement that she was “deeply saddened by another terrible terror attack in Israel today. My thoughts are with the Israeli people, especially those affected.

“The UK condemns this horrifying and senseless violence,” she said.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street in London, March 17, 2022. (Alastair Grant/AP)

UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan tweeted, “It is horrifying to see another terrorist attack so soon after those in Hadera and Beersheba. This time in Bnei Barak, close to my house. My condolences to all those affected — my neighbors. Britain condemns these attacks and stands with Israel.”

The German government warned against a spiral of violence following the recent attacks.

“All those who have responsibilities and influence must clearly condemn these acts of violence in order to avoid a new escalation of violence,” a German foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement, calling for avoiding “a spiral of violence during holidays to come for Jews, Muslims and Christians.”

“Just as with the attacks in Beersheba and Hadera, the attack (Tuesday) is shocking for its brutality and cold-bloodedness,” the statement said.

It condemned “with the greatest firmness this wave of attacks in Israel. Nothing can justify terror.”

US Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar also spoke out against the assault.

“Horrific, appalling terror attack. Violence only begets more violence. Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones,” tweeted Omar, who is a fierce critic of Israel and has faced accusations of antisemitism.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank, issued a rare condemnation of the attacks.

“The killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians will only lead to further deterioration of the situation, while we are all striving for stability,” Abbas said in a statement carried by the Wafa news agency. Officials told The Times of Israel that his condemnation was issued at the behest of Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

However, supporters of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group were seen dancing in the streets of Beirut to celebrate the attack. In videos posted to social media, they could be seen handing out candy to passing motorists.

Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad also welcomed the attacks.

Three of the victims were named as officer Amir Khoury, 32, a Christian Arab; and local residents Yaakov Shalom, 36, and Avishai Yehezkel, 29.

Police said the two other victims were Ukrainian workers aged 23 and 32, but did not immediately name them.

Three of the victims of the deadly attack in Bnei Brak on March 29, 2022 from left to right Amir Khoury, Ya’akov Shalom and Avishai Yehezkel (Courtesy)

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.

Hamarsheh arrived in Bnei Brak in a vehicle and disembarked on Jabotinsky Street at 7:56 p.m., according to Channel 13.

He then began firing at any victims he could find, killing two in a grocery store, then Shalom as he drove past in a car. He then shot Yehezkel, as he protected his 2-year-old child from the gunfire.

Khoury arrived at the scene with another police officer and was killed in an exchange of fire. 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.”

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