Shooting Attack in Benei Berak Leaves 5 Dead

A shooting attack occurred Tuesday night in the city of Benei Berak. Four civilians and one police officer were killed in the assault that spanned two different areas of the city, according to Israeli reports.

In the attack, an individual now identified as Dia Hamarsha, shot and killed several civilians near a convenience store with an assault rifle. Hamarsha then proceeded to a nearby area where he shot and killed a police officer before being neutralized by another officer at the scene.

Israeli media reported Hamarsha is a resident of the West Bank village of Ya’bad and was previously convicted for weapons trafficking, as well as being a member of a Palestinian militant organization.

Tuesday night’s attack is the third assault by jihadists that have left 11 Israelis dead in a week’s period. On March 22, an Islamic State-inspired Israeli Bedouin killed four civilians using a vehicle and knife. Five days later, two members of the Islamic State ambushed and killed two Israeli border police officers. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Shooting Attack in Israel.]

Palestinian militant organizations in Gaza and the West Bank published statements hours after the incident praising the attacker with many justifying it as a “natural response” to what they viewed as crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.

Additionally, a message posted on a jihadist online forum operated by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the Benei Berak attack. However, the claim could not be independently verified by FDD’s Long War Journal and Israeli security authorities have not yet confirmed if the group was involved in the attack.

Hamas and other Palestinian militant organizations have used the unrest caused by the attacks to encourage further terrorism.

On Sunday, Liwa al-Tawhid, a salafi-jihadist organization in the Gaza Strip, published a video lauding the jihadist who perpetrated the March 22 attack in Be’ersheba and called for additional assaults against Israelis.

It is has become clear that Israel is on the brink of a new wave of terrorism and a trend of copycat attacks appears to be emerging. Adding to that is the encouragement by Palestinian militant organizations to mount further attacks which complicates the task of Israeli security services to stop the violence before it spirals out of control.

Joe Truzman is an editor and senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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