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A gunman kills 5 in Israel before being killed by police


In Israel, a gunman has killed five people in a suburb of Tel Aviv. It's the latest in a series of attacks that have left 11 dead in just over a week. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is calling it a new wave of terror. And officials say some of the attackers support the Islamic State group, a rare phenomenon in Israel. NPR's Daniel Estrin is in Tel Aviv. Daniel, what more can you tell us about these attacks?

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Well, they've all happened in Israeli cities. Last week in Beersheba in the south, there was a rampage. An attacker used his car and then stabbed and killed four Israelis. Then this weekend in another city, Hadera, there was a pair of gunmen that killed two Israeli policemen. And then last night in Bnei Brak, right outside of Tel Aviv, a Palestinian gunmen from the West Bank - Israeli media report he was previously imprisoned in Israel. He opened fire, killed five people, including what we hear are two Ukrainians working here for several years and a policeman.

MARTÍNEZ: And is the motivation for this known yet?

ESTRIN: Well, officials said in the first two attacks the attackers were ISIS supporters. And we've been seeing in the last few days arrests of ISIS supporters. And ISIS supporters is highly rare in Israel. But on top of that, there is a different feeling that this may be a general wave of Palestinian attacks kind of like what we have seen in recent years - attacks that are not necessarily directed from from the top, but some kind of momentum that gathers and inspires copycat attacks. In the Palestinian territories, this is being described as resistance against Israeli occupation. We've seen gatherings, for instance, outside the attacker's house from last night.

MARTÍNEZ: And what's been the response politically?

ESTRIN: Well, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called it murderous Arab terror. He's describing it as a new phenomenon. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a rare condemnation of last night's attack. And then on the streets, we've been seeing Israeli far-right protests at sites of - some of the sites of these attacks. We've heard chants like death to Arabs. Israelis torched Palestinians' cars and vowed revenge in one village. And we're seeing thousands of police today dispatched across the country. And people are jittery. I've heard from Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel who are afraid to go out on the streets to Jewish areas. We saw this morning police shoot at the legs of some Palestinians in a busy Jerusalem market - perhaps a case of mistaken identity. And some Israeli cities and even in West Bank settlements are limiting construction sites now because a lot of Palestinian workers come in for construction. And these cities don't want Palestinians coming in today.

MARTÍNEZ: So you said people are jittery. So there must be fears that things could get worse or maybe grow into a larger wave of violence.

ESTRIN: That's right. And the U.S. has actually been fearing this for many weeks now. They have been warning that violence ahead of next month's Muslim holy month of Ramadan. They're worried of what happened last year, when there was violence leading to the Gaza conflict around this time of year. So they have been urging officials to meet to try to take steps to prevent violence. We've seen Israeli and Palestinian leaders meeting. We've seen Israeli and Jordanian officials meeting. Jordan plays a role here as the custodian of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. So Israel's president is meeting the king of Jordan today. It is unclear, though, if this really can be stopped, if this is a wave of lone wolf attackers not directed. And especially with Jewish, Christian, Muslim holidays coming up next month, this is a recipe for more tension.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv. Daniel, thanks.

ESTRIN: You're welcome.


NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.