The deadly attack on civilians at a Tel Aviv shopping and restaurant complex last night displayed a stark contempt for human life, Amnesty International said.
Two Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the Sarona market in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening, killing four civilians and injuring others. Several of those wounded were still hospitalized on Thursday morning. Israeli forces apprehended the attackers, wounding one of them.
“This heinous attack flouted fundamental principles of humanity,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International. “There can be never be any justification for deliberately attacking civilians.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the killings, but the Hamas movement welcomed the attack and warned of more “surprises” for Israel.
“Celebration and coded threats are a reprehensible response to the deaths of civilians,” said Luther.
“Such language runs contrary to the responsibility – shared by all sides – to halt the cycle of violations and abuses in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
After the shooting, Israeli forces blockaded Yatta, the town in the Hebron district of the occupied West Bank that is believed to have been home to the attackers. The Israeli military is not allowing anyone in or out of the town, apart from “humanitarian” and “medical” cases. The Israeli authorities say permits for some 200 relatives of the attackers to work in Israel have also been suspended.
“While Israel has the right to enact necessary and proportionate measures to protect those under its control, Israeli forces must not respond to these attacks with further measures of collective punishment or other disproportionate actions, which would themselves violate international law,” said Luther. “Sadly, Israeli forces have a history of using excessive measures in retaliation for attacks, including blanket restrictions on Palestinians’ movement and the demolition of attackers’ family homes.”
The Israeli authorities say they have also frozen entry permits to Israel and occupied East Jerusalem for more than 80,000 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank that were granted for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Since October 2015, Palestinians have carried out dozens of attacks on Israeli civilians and on soldiers and police, killing more than 30 Israelis. Israeli forces have frequently responded to Palestinian attacks and protests with excessive and lethal force, killing more than 200 Palestinians, some in apparent extrajudicial executions.