Shock and fear after gun attack in Israeli city leaves five dead

TEL AVIV: Shlomo Alperin had planned to study in a religious school on Wednesday but instead was attending a funeral, still in shock after witnessing the most violent attack in years in greater Tel Aviv. “I want to go to the funerals. I feel a need for the closeness,” Alperin said, after five people were gunned down on Tuesday on the streets of Beni Brak. From his flat, the 23-year-old ultra-Orthodox man had heard bursts of gunfire, before seeing his neighbor’s body crumpled in a car, and two men dead at a cafe often frequented by Ukrainian construction workers. Hours later grief-stricken Michaela Ursulan, 25, was still in her pajamas on Wednesday as she mourned her friend, one of two Ukrainian victims. “Every day we talked,” Ursulan recalled, looking at pictures of her friend on a recent fishing trip, as a candle flickered in her kitchen. Ursulan said she and her friend both moved to Israel for work from Chernivtsi, in western Ukraine, and had bonded while living far from home. “We don’t have our parents here, everyone’s overseas,” she said. Police said a Palestinian gunman armed with an M-16 shot dead two Ukrainian nationals as well as two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and an Arab Christian police officer from northern Israel late on Tuesday. The two Ukrainians have not been named, but they were manual laborers, said witness Lior Rahimi, pointing to a corner shop and cafe. They “used to sit here for hours each day after work,” said the 38-year-old, describing them as friendly and helpful men. Police identified the perpetrator as Diaa Armashah, 27, a Palestinian from the West Bank village of Yabad. He was shot dead by police on the scene. The slain Israelis, Yaakov Shalom, 36, and Avishai Yehezkel, 29, both ultra-Orthodox residents of Bnei Brak, were buried on Wednesday. The funeral for Amir Khoury, 32, an Arab Christian policeman from Nof Hagalil, was scheduled for Thursday. “It’s painful. It’s your neighbors,” said Alperin. “My neighbor lost his life for nothing.” The Bnei Brak shooting rampage was the third fatal attack in the Jewish state in the past week. On Sunday, two Arab citizens of Israel shot dead two police officers in the northern city of Hadera, in an assault claimed by Daesh. Days before, an Arab Bedouin citizen of Israel who had previously tried to join Daesh killed four people by stabbing and ramming his vehicle in the southern city of Beersheba. “There is real fear!” said Neta Levi, 37, an artist. “I’m going to avoid places where there are a lot of people,” she said in Ramat Gan, a city next to Bnei Brak, saying she had not told her young sons “so they don’t get scared.” Roni Maili, 65, saw the attacker on security camera footage as he stalked the office stairwell. “Between him and me there was a door, ” he said. “I usually leave the door open,” he said. “I don’t know why I had shut the door.” “I don’t know how I’m alive,” he added saying he hadn’t been able to sleep, as the shocking incident kept replaying in his mind.

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