Two people severely injured in a terrorist shooting in Tel Aviv Thursday evening remained in very grave condition the following morning, doctors said.
Three friends in their 30s were injured on Thursday night when a Palestinian attacker opened fire at people outside a cafe on the corner of Dizengoff Street and Ben Gurion Street. He then fled the scene while shooting at other people in the area, before he was killed in a shootout with police officers a short time later.
Or Eshkar, 32, was hospitalized in critical condition at the emergency care ward at Ichilov Hospital, according to a Friday statement. A second man, Rotem Mansano, 34, was also in serious condition and being treated in the emergency neurosurgery ward, doctors said.
Both victims were sedated and breathing through a respirator.
The third victim, Michael Osdon, 36, who suffered light to moderate wounds, was hospitalized in the plastic surgery ward.
Dr. Or Goren of Ichilov told Kan public radio that Eshkar was wounded in the neck. According to the doctor, Mansano and Osdon’s conditions were not life-threatening.
Osdon told reporters that the three friends were on their way to a wedding when they were attacked.
“The terrorist fired, but I was able to move my head and evade the bullet, which hit my cheek. The terrorist fired another bullet at one friend, then the other. He tried to shoot me again, and then I ran to an ice cream store nearby to call rescue services,” he told Channel 13 news.
“I was wounded relatively lightly. I am waiting for some cosmetic procedures. Please pray for my friends,” he added.
The shooter was identified as 23-year-old Mutaz Salah al-Khawaja, a Palestinian from the West Bank town of Ni’lin, who had been twice jailed in Israel.
He was shot dead by four armed people, including two police officers who were at the scene, one of whom was off duty, law enforcement officials said. The other two were a civilian and a reserve military officer.
Surveillance camera footage shows the terror shooting attack in Tel Aviv this evening, outside a cafe on Dizengoff Street. Three wounded, including one critically. Video has been blurred by me. pic.twitter.com/wkXMJcSvfr
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) March 9, 2023
In graphic footage from the moment of Thursday’s attack, a man in a black jacket can be seen walking briskly behind the group of three men before pulling out a pistol and opening fire at them from point-blank range. He can then be seen trying to flee as panicked cafe patrons take cover.
Two Arab Israelis, residents of Ramle and Kuseife, turned themselves into police on Friday for driving the attacker to the scene. Their arrests were extended later in the day, police said.
Israeli troops raided Ni’lin, al-Khawaja’s hometown, following the attack, taking measurements at his house in preparation for its demolition, and arresting his father and another family member, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as a matter of policy. 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 demolition process generally takes several months, as the home needs to be mapped out, the High Court must address appeals by the family, and security forces often wait for an optimal time to enter Palestinian cities or neighborhoods for the operation.
مصادر عبرية: حصيلة عملية "تل أبيب" 5 جرحى واستشهاد المنفذ وهو الشهيد معتز صلاح الخواجا.
مرفق صورة المنفذ pic.twitter.com/3QdtUrBpUO
— Newpress | نيو برس (@NewpressPs) March 9, 2023
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks. Those tensions have ramped up even further in recent weeks amid a cycle of Israeli raids and Palestinian revenge attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.
A string of Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent months left 14 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.
At least 74 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.