Tel Aviv security officers hailed for ‘thwarting a much graver attack’

Israeli political leaders praise guards for confronting Palestinian terrorist, mourn death of patrolmen Chen Amir: ‘A hero who lost his life protecting the city’s residents’

Police and other emergency personnel at the scene of a suspected terror attack in Tel Aviv on August 5, 2023. (Itai Ron/Flash90)
Police and other emergency personnel at the scene of a suspected terror attack in Tel Aviv on August 5, 2023. (Itai Ron/Flash90)

Israeli leaders on Saturday hailed a pair of Tel Aviv municipality security officers who confronted a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv, one of whom was critically wounded while doing so, for potentially preventing a larger attack.

The slain officer was later named as Chen Amir, 42. His colleague neutralized the terrorist, who later died of his wounds.

“I praise the Tel Aviv municipality patrolmen for their vigilance and pursuit, which thwarted a much more serious attack,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “Our security forces will settle the score with all those who seek our lives.”

“Your courage will not be forgotten. You are true heroes,” tweeted Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.

Speaking with a Channel 12 reporter at the scene, Huldai said “life must go on as usual.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also praised the response by security forces at the scene, as did President Isaac Herzog and opposition party leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz.

“Security forces will continue to operate everywhere with a strong hand against terror,” Lapid tweeted. “Our enemies should know that we will pursue them and their inciters everywhere.”

“Our hearts are with the family, wife, and little daughters of Chen Amir who was murdered tonight in a terror attack in Tel Aviv,” Lapid tweeted later after Amir’s death was announced. “There are no words that can comfort over the loss, Chen was a hero who lost his life protecting the city’s residents.”

Chen Amir, 42, a municipal security guard who was killed by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunman in a terror attack in Tel Aviv, August 5, 2023. (Courtesy)

The attack occurred Saturday evening in a bustling part of Tel Aviv. The gunman, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, was shot dead by a patrolman who was at the scene alongside Amir.

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said that the two 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, the Palestinian man pulled out a handgun and opened fire, hitting Amir, according to law enforcement officials.

The second officer returned fire at the gunman. Footage showed the moment the second security guard chased after him and shot him.

The terrorist, Kamel Abu Bakr, 22, a resident of Rummanah — a town near Jenin — was also taken to the Ichilov Hospital where he was later declared dead.

According to the Shin Bet, Abu Bakr had been hiding in the Jenin refugee camp for the past six months.

Abu Bakr did not have an entry permit to Israel due to his affiliation with Islamic Jihad.

The agency was investigating how he entered Israel.

The police commissioner told media at the scene that the suspect had a “martyrdom” letter on him, adding that “he came to be a martyr.”

Warning: Graphic footage

The terror attack came as protesters against the government’s judicial overhaul were gathering for the 31st week of protests in Tel Aviv and nationwide. Organizers of the Tel Aviv protests, on Kaplan Street, said their rally was going ahead as scheduled, in “full coordination with the police.” They sent wishes for the recovery of the critically injured security guard.

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 25 people dead and several others seriously wounded since the beginning of the year.

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.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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