Jerusalem, May 5 (EFE).- Three people were killed and four other wounded Thursday night by Palestinian assailants in an attack on the central Israeli city of Elad, first responders said.
Police said they were looking for two men, one of them armed with an ax, in connection with the “terrorist incident.”
Checkpoints went up on roads leading out of Elad and a police helicopter joined in the search for the suspects.
The assaults coincided with celebrations of the 74th anniversary of the creation of modern Israel and brought to 18 the number of Israelis killed in Palestinian attacks since the beginning of March.
Witness accounts indicated the attacks took place near Elad Amphitheater Park in the city of nearly 49,000 residents, a majority of them Orthodox Jews.
Municipal authorities urged people to remain indoors as long as the suspects remain at large.
A paramedic with Magen David Adom (MDA) – Israel’s Red Cross – described the fatalities as three men in their 40s.
Two of the wounded, ages 35 and 60, respectively, were taken to hospitals in serious condition, Alon Rizkan said, adding that two other men, a 40-year-old and a 23-year-old who fought with the attackers, suffered moderate injuries.
“The joy of Independence Day was cut short in an instant,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said. “I send heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their loved ones tonight, and pray with the whole house of Israel for the safety of the wounded.”
“We will not succumb to terrorism. Terrorists cannot scare us. The security forces will catch the killers and those who sent them and hold them accountable. We will continue to fight together for our independence and the security of the citizens of Israel,” he said.
No group claimed responsibility for the assaults in Elad, but Hamas, the Islamist organization that controls Gaza, called the violence “a response to our people’s rage over the occupation’s attack on our holy sites,” referring to Israeli police activity at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Construction of Elad began in the late 1990s at a spot near the wall separating Israel proper from the West Bank. EFE sga/dr