At least three people have been wounded in a shooting in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv and are being treated by emergency services, Israel’s ambulance service has said, as television footage showed large numbers of police and medical workers at the scene.
The shooting took place next to a café on the corner of Dizengoff Street and Ben Gurion Street, the Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance service said, according to The Times of Israel.
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“We evacuated the three with gunshot wounds, one of them in critical condition, one seriously wounded and one lightly wounded,” MDA director Eli Bin told Israel’s Kan television.
Israeli police said the assailant had been “neutralised” but provided no details about the circumstances of the shooting, which they said could be “a terrorist attack”.
Police and medics were still on the scene and it was unclear if they were looking for a second attacker.
Shootings in Tel Aviv – a densely populated commercial and cultural capital – are rare. “This is going to be very concerning to the police,” Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan said, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem.
He added that the shooting took place in a busy street full of bars, restaurants and cafés.
“Ordinarily it would have been packed but given the huge amount of demonstrators who are in Tel Aviv it would have been busier than normal,” he said, referring to weeks of widespread protests against the government’s plan to overhaul the judicial system.
‘A very serious attack’
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the news while on a visit to Italy. “A very serious attack in Tel Aviv, a terrorist attack … sending recovery wishes to the injured,” he said.
“We are strengthening the police and security forces – this will not weaken our determination to plant roots in our homeland,” he added.
National security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir later said the gunman had been killed. “A serious attack in Tel Aviv… I congratulate the police officer who, in a courageous act, eliminated the heinous terrorist and saved many lives,” he said in a statement.
In light of the attack, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai called on anti-government protesters to clear the streets to allow police to secure the area, The Times of Israel reported.
Rallies have been held since early January when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government proposed legislation to limit the Supreme Court’s powers.
If passed, the law will curb the Supreme Court’s powers to rule against the legislature and the executive, while giving legislators decisive powers in appointing judges.
The incident also comes amid heightened tension in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli settler-related violence against Palestinians has skyrocketed since Netanyahu came back to power at the helm of a right-wing coalition that seeks to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and pursue other anti-Palestinian policies.
The United States defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, expressed concerns about Jewish settler violence against Palestinians while on a visit to Israel on Thursday.
In a joint news conference with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant, Austin said Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security was “iron-clad” but warned against acts that could trigger more insecurity.