A Tel Aviv municipal patrol officer was killed in a terror shooting in a bustling area of Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, police and medics said. The gunman, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, was shot dead by the patrol officer’s colleague.
Police Commissioner Kobi 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, the Palestinian man pulled out a handgun and opened fire, hitting one of the patrolmen, according to law enforcement officials.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service said the officer, later named as 42-year-old Chen Amir, was critically hurt after being shot in the head. He was taken to the nearby Ichilov Hospital, where medical officials declared his death.
“Chen… was killed while preventing with his body a larger attack and in his death saved many lives,” a statement from the hospital said.
Ichilov added that his family agreed to donate his organs. Amir was a married father of three.
The second officer returned fire at the gunman. Footage showed the moment the second security patrolman chased after him and shot him.
The terrorist was also taken to the Ichilov Hospital, which later declared his death.
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 Palestinian gunman was identified by the Shin Bet security agency as a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.
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
According to the Shin Bet, Kamel Abu Bakr, 22, a resident of Rummanah — a town near Jenin — 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.
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
תיעוד רגעי הירי במחבל בנחלת בנימין פינת מונטיפיורי בתל אביב pic.twitter.com/iz1X4EeCXB
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) August 5, 2023
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 patrolman.
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.