Hunt for gunman who killed 2 in Tel Aviv pub

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv, Israel on Jan 2.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv, Israel on Jan 2.PHOTO: REUTERS

TEL AVIV • Israeli security forces were hunting yesterday for the gunman who killed two people and wounded seven others at a Tel Aviv pub, as the motive for the attack remained unclear.

The shooting on Friday afternoon on Tel Aviv's busy Dizengoff street came amid a wave of Palestinian attacks on Israelis and days after the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group threatened the Jewish state with violence.

"Police are continuing to search for a suspect who murdered two Israelis in central Tel Aviv," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, adding that "road blocks were set up in different areas" of the coastal city. After the attack, hundreds of police scoured the area and entered buildings to search for suspects as police helicopters buzzed overhead.

Media reports identified the shooter as an Arab in his late 20s from northern Israel who had recently been jailed for attacking a soldier, but police did not confirm this.

Mr Rosenfeld said there was a "strong possibility that this was a terrorist attack but we haven't ruled out criminal motives".

CCTV footage from a nearby health food store showed a bespectacled young man with a backpack calmly pretending to shop before going to the exit, placing the backpack on a trolley, removing what looks like a submachine gun and opening fire in the street.

Medics said they took nine people to hospitals, with police saying two of them had died. One of those killed was identified by his father as Mr Alon Bakal, a law and business student who was a manager at Simta, the targeted pub, with police naming the second as Mr Shimon Ruimi from southern Israel.

Police issued a gag order on the investigation as well as the one into the death of an Arab Israeli taxi driver found shot in north Tel Aviv a short while after the shooting rampage. They have also refused to say whether the two incidents were linked. In a recording released a week ago and attributed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the secretive leader of the ISIS terrorist group pledged to attack Israel. Baghdadi said ISIS has "not forgotten Palestine for a single moment".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 03, 2016, with the headline 'Hunt for gunman who killed 2 in Tel Aviv pub'. Print Edition | Subscribe