The Palestinian terrorist who carried out the deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv on Thursday was named as Ra’ad Hazem, a 28-year-old resident of Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. He was killed in a pre-dawn firefight near a closed Jaffa mosque where he was hiding out hours after the killing spree.
The Shin Bet security agency said he had “no clear organizational affiliation, no security background and no previous arrests” and was in Israel without an entry permit.
His father, Fathi Hazem, is a former security prisoner who previously served as an officer in the Palestinian Authority’s security services in Jenin.
Fathi praised his son’s actions to a crowd gathered in front of the family home on Friday morning.
“Your eyes will see the victory soon. You will see the change. You will achieve your freedom… God, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the desecration of the occupiers,” Fathi said, according to footage.
The crowd of Palestinians chanted that “the army of Mohammad” was coming to vanquish Israel.
“Many died in God’s path before you were even born. Years ago, they gave everything for God and for Palestine…now, we pass the flag to those after us,” said Fathi. “The sword of Mohammad is in your hands.”
אביו של המחבל הבוקר בג'נין: "הניצחון יגיע בקרוב, בימים הקרובין תראו את השינוי.
אתם תהיו חופשיים ועצמאיים. אלוהים, שחרר את מסגד אלאקצא מידי הכיבוש!" pic.twitter.com/yHlqUwHPJo
— שחר גליק (@glick_sh) April 8, 2022
Hazem killed two people and wounded several others when he opened fire on a Tel Aviv bar. Hundreds of security forces launched an all-night manhunt through the streets of Tel Aviv to search for the shooter.
He was located hours later, hiding near a mosque in Jaffa some 3.5 miles away, and killed in an exchange of fire with officers from the Yamam police counter-terrorism unit and Shin Bet security service.
There were no Israeli casualties in the gun battle.
According to Hebrew media reports, two Shin Bet officers drove to the mosque to search the area.
Once they arrived, they found a suspicious-looking individual who matched Hazem’s description. Two of the officers got out of the car and ordered him to surrender.
While initially raising his hands in surrender, Hazem reportedly then drew a gun and opened fire on the officers, who fired back and killed him.
The Shin Bet is now investigating whether he was assisted by locals. According to initial estimations, officials believe Hazem knew the area well, given that he escaped to a mosque in the predominantly Arab Jaffa where it is believed he might have attempted to hide during morning prayers for the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised security forces for finding and neutralizing the assailant.
“We maintain maximum alertness, within Tel Aviv and throughout the country, for fear of further incidents or attacks,” he said.
“The entire nation of Israel mourns the grief of the families of those killed and prays for the health of the wounded. Our war on murderous terrorism is long and hard. We will win.”
Bennett was set to hold a situation assessment with security officials later in the day, his office said.
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said his forces, the army and the Shin Bet had spent a “difficult night” tracking down the assailant.
“We succeeded this morning, through intelligence and operational cooperation, to close the circle and to kill the terrorist in a shootout,” he said.
“We will widen our actions against the wave of terror through offense, defense and intelligence,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said ahead of the meeting with Bennett. “The price that we will extract from the attackers and those who send them will be heavy.”
Two people were killed and several were wounded on Thursday evening when Hazem opened fire on a bar in central Tel Aviv, the latest eruption of violence to strike Israel in recent weeks.
The shooting took place on Dizengoff Street, turning an area crowded with people out for Thursday night at bars, restaurants, and cafes, into a scene of chaos and panic.
The attack began when the gunman walked up to Ilka, a popular bar with a large outside seating section, and opened fire.
Ten people were rushed to the nearby Ichilov Hospital with gunshot wounds, two of whom were later declared dead, the hospital said. They were both identified as civilians in their 20s.
The hospital said Friday morning it was continuing to treat eight people wounded in the attack, including a man in critical condition still facing “an immediate danger to his life.”
According to the hospital, three others who were in critical condition “were no longer in danger” and were being treated in ICUs.
The other four were listed as being light to moderately wounded.
Israeli leaders have raised fears of a fresh outbreak of Palestinian terror in recent weeks and vowed to crack down while also attempting to avoid heightening Palestinian anger during the holy month of Ramadan.
The shooting broke a tense calm that had set in since March 28, when a Palestinian man opened fire in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, killing five people. Attacks days before in Hadera and Beersheba, by Israelis thought to have been inspired by the Islamic State, left six others dead.
There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Hamas terror group called it a “heroic operation” that constitutes a “natural and legitimate response to the escalation of the occupation’s crimes.”
Hamas vowed that “resistance” against Israel “is continuing and escalating,” without explicitly taking responsibility for the attack, noting its opposition to Jewish pilgrims visiting the Temple Mount during the Passover holiday, which coincides with Ramadan this year.