At least two people were killed Thursday and several wounded during an attack in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, a hospital said.
It is the latest incident among a surge of violence in Israel and the West Bank since late March.
“So far, 10 wounded have arrived at the trauma room of Ichilov Hospital. But unfortunately, despite the doctors’ efforts, two of the wounded died,” Ichilov Hospital said in a statement.
It said four of those wounded in the attack were in “critical condition” and undergoing surgery.
Two witnesses told AFP that they heard gunshots in the centre of Tel Aviv, where police said they were being deployed.
In a statement, they asked residents to stay inside during the incident “which is still ongoing.”
Eli Bin, head of the Magen David Adom emergency responders, initially told public TV broadcaster Kan that five people were wounded and one was “in a critical state.”
Outside a cafe where what appeared to be shattered glass carpeted the ground outside the entrance, a man comforted a woman sitting on a bar stool while police converged on the scene.
“It’s an atmosphere of war. Soldiers and police are everywhere… They searched the restaurant,” and people are crying, said Binyamin Blum who works in a restaurant near the scene of the attack.
Brenda Ehrlich, 31, an insurance agent from the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon, told AFP she heard about the attack as she rode a bus into the city to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
The group sat indoors and Ehrlich said she felt “like I need to look in all directions to not be caught by surprise, as police hunted for suspects.
“We were thinking of heading home but it feels a little dangerous so we might stay inside in Tel Aviv before we go home.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was at army headquarters in the coastal city where he was receiving updates on this, the fourth attack in just over two weeks in Israel.
On March 29 a Palestinian gunman opened fire with an M-16 assault rifle in Bnei Brak, a mostly Jewish Orthodox city near Tel Aviv.
He killed two Ukrainian men and two Israeli civilians. An Arab-Israeli officer died of wounds sustained in the ensuing gunfight that also killed the assailant.
Two days earlier “terrorists” opened fire and killed two police officers in the northern city of Hadera before officers shot the assailants dead, police said.
On March 22 a convicted Islamic State group sympathiser killed four Israelis in a stabbing and car-ramming spree in the southern city of Beersheba.
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