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Israeli police said the assailant has been ‘neutralised’ after he opened fire near a café on Dizengoff Street.
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 Magen David Adom ambulance service said the shooting took place next to a café on the corner of Dizengoff Street and Ben Gurion Street, The Times of Israel reported.
“We evacuated the three with gunshot wounds, one of them in critical condition, one seriously wounded, and one lightly wounded,” Magen David Adom 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 it said could be “a terrorist attack”.
Israeli 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.
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.
The incident came amid widespread protests against the government’s planned overhaul of the judicial system.
Rallies have been held since early January, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government took aim at the Supreme Court.
Protesters oppose legislation that would limit the Supreme Court’s powers to rule against the legislature and the executive, while giving legislators decisive powers in appointing judges.
In light of the attack, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai called on anti-government protesters throughout the city to clear the streets in order to allow police to secure the area, The Times of Israel reported.
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said the attack took place in a busy street full of bars, restaurants and cafes.
“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.
While in East Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank gun attacks are more frequent, in Tel Aviv they are a rare occurrence. “This is going to be very concerning to the police,” Khan said.
The incident also comes amid heightened tension in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli settler-related violence targeting 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.
US Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin expressed concerns about Jewish settler violence against Palestinians while on a visit to Israel on Thursday.
In a joint news conference with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Galant, he said that Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security was “iron-clad” but warned against acts that could trigger more insecurity.