2 Killed; More than 10 Wounded When Gunman Opens Fire in Tel Aviv

At least two people were killed and more than 10 wounded when a gunman opened fire in a popular area in central Tel Aviv on Thursday night, according to Israeli authorities,The Washington Post reported.

The two fatalities were men in their 30s, according to Israel’s emergency services. Medics said the others wounded suffered gunshot wounds to their chests and stomachs, the news outlet reported.

The Thursday night attack began when at least one gunman opened fire at a bar named, Ilka located on Dizengoff Street, according to the Times of Israel, the BBC reported.

Dizengoff Street is one of the busiest streets in central Tel Aviv, and Thursday night, the start of the weekend, and a popular area where many gather is lined with trendy restaurants and bars,the Associated Press reported.

Police said after the shooting, the gunman fled the scene into a dense residential area, the news outlet reported.

The shooter was identified as someone from the West Bank, authorities said, The Washington Post reported.

Evelyn Gertz, 34, who was eating next door to where the shooting happened told the BBC, “We dove under the tables and people started crying, it was horrible,” she said.

Video from CCTV shows chaos of people scrambling trying to escape from the downtown area as emergency vehicles rushed in, a report said.

Police urged the public to stay at home and get off the streets until the gunman is caught, the BBC reported.

“Don’t leave your homes. Don’t stick your heads out of the window. Stay off your balconies,” police spokesman Eli Levy said on Channel 13 television, the news outlet said.

Two hours after the shooting, the gunman was still on the loose and at least 1,000 police officers and additional IDF soldiers were searching the area,The Jerusalem Post reported.

The suspect was said to be dressed in black shorts and a black shirt and was carrying a handgun, according to police, the news outlet reported.

Special forces, including units from the IDF’s Sayeret Matkal and Shaldag Units and police’s Yamam elite counter-terror unit, were searching for the gunman with senior agents from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), The Jerusalem Post reported.

The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear, the AP reported.

Sourasky Medical Center said at least four of the wounded were in serious condition, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Police said there were “indications” that Thursday’s shooting was a politically motivated attack, the AP reported. It was the fourth deadly assault in Israel in less than three weeks at a time of heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions, the news outlet said.

The militant Hamas group ruling Gaza did not take responsibility for the attack but praised the attack in Tel Aviv, The Washington Post reported.

In a statement on its website Thursday, Hamas called it a “heroic operation” that “led to the killing of a number of occupying soldiers and Zionist settlers, the news outlet reported.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, and Operations Directorate OC Maj.-Gen. Oded Basyuk was at the Kirya Military headquarters in Tel Aviv are receiving regular updates, The Jerusalem Post reported.

*** This is a developing story.

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