The four people killed after a pair of gunmen opened fire on at an upscale market in Tel Aviv Wednesday night have been identified by Israeli police.
• Idan Ben Arieh, 42, from Ramat Gan, which is east of Tel Aviv
• Ilana Naveh, 39, from Ramat Gan
• Michael Faiga, 58, from southern Israel
• Mila Meshayev, 32, from Rishon LeZion, which lies just south of Tel Aviv
They died after two shooters, identified as Palestinians, opened fire at the Sarona Market — a popular food and shopping complex near the Israeli Defense Ministry — shattering what was a serene night with chaos and bloodshed.
In total, 13 people suffered gunshot wounds, according to Israel’s national emergency medical service. Four people, including one suspect, are still being treated at hospitals, Israeli police say.
The attackers were dressed as Hasidic Jews, a law enforcement source briefed by Israeli officials said. Police officers shot one of the suspects. The other surrendered, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
“People were having coffee,” Amir Ohana, a member of the Israeli Parliament who was at the market, told CNN. “I saw a birthday cake on one of the tables. And then you see the chairs upside down and glass shattered and blood all over.”
Surveillance footage from a cafe near the shooting scene showed chaos as panicked customers knocked over chairs and tables as they rushed to escape. People crawled across the floor and others carried children in their arms.
A pair of suspects were identified to CNN by the mayor of their hometown on Thursday. CNN is no longer releasing their names, as Israeli authorities have issued a gag order on reporting details that could identify the attackers.
Rosenfeld said earlier that two terrorists were captured, with one shot and the second arrested at the market.
According to Israel’s security agency, they are both Palestinians from the village of Yatta in the southern West Bank, near the city of Hebron. Both were born in 1995.
The Islamist group Hamas praised the attack in a statement, though they did not claim responsibility for it.
Spokesman Housam Badran said this was the “first of many surprises” planned against Israeli forces during the month of Ramadan.
A ‘savage crime’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “a savage crime, murder in the heart of Tel Aviv.”
“We will take the necessary steps to attack the attackers and defend those who need to be defended,” he said.
A spokesman for the Israeli military confirmed that military forces were conducting searches in Yatta, where the suspected attackers are from.
The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, has been participating in “very important ongoing security coordination” with their Israeli counterparts in the wake of the attack, David Siegel, the consul general of Israel to southwestern U.S., told CNN.
The four fatalities were Israeli, Rosenfeld said. At least five other people were wounded in the carnage, said Dr. Gil Fire, deputy director of Ichilov Hospital.
Concerns about security?
Sarona Market is a mixed-use development with a food hall, upscale retail, playgrounds, green space and residences on a central highway. The market, which opened last year, is across the street from Israel’s Defense Ministry and main army headquarters.
Siegel said the market is in a “trendy, hip” part of Tel Aviv, and the attackers struck on “a very crowded evening.”
The market is considered a “classic soft terror target,” and is nearly impossible to secure, according to Steve Moore, a CNN law enforcement analyst.
“It is really indefensible. It is a mall,” he said. “You are not going to set up a system whereby, absent body searches, you are going to stop these things.”
A press release from the opening of the complex described it as an 8,700-square-meter complex with 91 stalls, shops and restaurants selling food from around the globe.
The Jerusalem Post reported in April that Tel Aviv police wanted to close the market because of “security flaws and safety shortcomings that present a risk to the public’s safety.”
But a spokesman for Gindi Holding, which built the market, told The Post the complex would not be closed and that violations only involved tables and chairs blocking entrances and exits and the way security guards were inspecting visitors at the door.
Information about a motive wasn’t immediately available. No intelligence suggested an attack was imminent, Rosenfeld said.
Though Israelis may not have had specific intelligence regarding this attack, CNN analysts say that the number of attacks was expected to pick up during Ramadan.
Israeli authorities announced Thursday they have frozen 83,000 entry permits for Palestinians — including all permits for Ramadan and those for family visits from the West Bank to Israel — in light of the Tel Aviv attacks.
“Two things happen at Ramadan in Israel. Number one, you expect attacks, and number two, you’re loosening up the security measures between Gaza and the West Bank and Israel,” Moore said. “So it’s kind of the worst of all worlds. So maybe they [the Israelis] didn’t have an individual indication of this specific attack, but they knew attacks were coming.”
Hamas added in its statement that the Wednesday attack “is the first of many surprises that will be waiting” for Israel.
But former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and current Member of Parliament Michael Oren said Israel would be prepared.
“This is a country, which over the course of its 68-year history, has grown tragically accustomed to these types of attacks,” he said. “We are very resilient.”
Violence in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is not as violent as Jerusalem, but has not escaped bloodshed.
Two people were killed January 1 when a gunman sprayed bullets from an automatic weapon near a pub in Tel Aviv. Seven people were wounded. In March, an American was killed and 10 other people were wounded in a stabbing along an oceanfront boardwalk. Anti-police riots broke out in May 2015.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner issued a statement condemning “today’s horrific terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in the strongest possible terms.”
“These cowardly attacks against innocent civilians can never be justified,” he said. “We are in touch with Israeli authorities to express our support and concern.”
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon called on the Security Council to condemn the attack.
“Today’s heinous attack sadly proves that when the international community refuses to condemn terror against Israelis, the next attack is only a matter of time,” he said in a statement. “Terror in Tel Aviv must be treated the same as terror in Paris or Istanbul.”
Rosenfeld said knife attacks have been more common lately, with the last shooting in Tel Aviv occurring months ago.