Israel updates: 3 people were killed in an attack


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Two assailants armed with a rifle and an ax attacked passersby in the Israeli town of Elad. The attack followed a wave of violence by Arab attackers that has already killed 14 people in Israel since March.creditcredit…Ammar Awad/Reuters

JERUSALEM – Two assailants, at least one armed with an axe, attacked pedestrians in an Israeli town Thursday night, killing at least three, according to initial reports from witnesses, police and emergency services.

The occupation authorities described the attack, which wounded several others, as a terrorist attack.

The attack followed A wave of violence by Arab attackers left 14 people dead In cities across Israel since late March, it came days after an armed Palestinian leader urged Arabs to “equip cleavers, axes and knives.”

Thursday’s attack also followed clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli police at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem over the past few weeks. The specter of Israel entering a new period of prolonged violence raised.

Despite fears of another clash at the mosque on Thursday, Israel’s Independence Day, it was relatively calm there even though Israeli police arrested a Palestinian protester. However, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas They issued very lamentable statements for police work.

On Saturday, Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, warned that any further raids by the Israeli police inside the mosque compound would lead to a response. In a fiery speech, he urged the Arab minority in Israel to “equip cleavers, axes and knives.”

The attack occurred Thursday in the ultra-Orthodox town of Elad in central Israel, just after dark.

Emergency medics said they found the first fatality from a traffic loop in Elad and two others in a nearby park.

“When we arrived we realized that this was a complex scene,” said Alon Rezkan, a MDA paramedic for the ambulance service. He described the three people who were pronounced dead at the scene as men, approximately 40 years old.

Many of the injured were taken to hospitals, and hospital officials said at least two were in critical condition with head injuries.

Hours later, police said they were still investigating the circumstances of the attack, including the number of suspects involved. Details remained murky: some witnesses reported seeing two of the attackers, both carrying axes. Others said one was armed with an ax and the other was carrying a knife.

The attackers appeared to have fled. Police said they set up checkpoints along several roads, and officers in a police helicopter were searching for a car seen fleeing the scene. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the soldiers would assist in the pursuit.

No group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack, but a Hamas spokesman hailed it as a “courageous and heroic act” and a “natural response to the occupation’s violations of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the holiest site in Jerusalem for both Muslims and Jews, who revere it as the Temple Mount, the site of two ancient synagogues.

Motivated by Hamas, the Islamist armed group that controls Gaza, protesters in the compound attempted to prevent visits by Israeli Jews during the designated hours for non-Muslim visitors and tourists, throwing stones and setting off fireworks at security forces. The police acted primarily to secure visitor access, but police actions, including the use of sponge-covered bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas to disperse rioters, sparked popular anger among Palestinians.

Palestinians view visits to the compound by extremist Israelis, which have increased in recent years, as a provocation, and fear that such visits are part of a gradual effort to undermine Muslim access to the site. The Israeli authorities say there has been no change to the long-standing arrangements at the site.

Heba Yazbek Contributed to reporting from Nazareth, Israel and Iyad Abu Howila from Gaza City.