JERUSALEM: Israel on Thursday suspended most special permits for Palestinians to visit Israel during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and beefed up police patrols in Tel Aviv, after two Palestinians carried out a shooting in Tel Aviv Wednesday night that killed four Israelis.
COGAT, an Israeli defense body, said 83,000 permits for Palestinians in the West Bank to visit relatives in Israel during Ramadan had been frozen. Israel considers the Ramadan permits a goodwill gesture toward Palestinians.
The special Ramadan permits were also suspended for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including permits to visit relatives in Israel, travel abroad and attend prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, COGAT said.
In addition, the military has frozen Israeli work permits for 204 of the attackers’ relatives, and is preventing Palestinians from leaving and entering the West Bank village of Yatta, the attackers’ home village. COGAT said entering or leaving will only be permitted for humanitarian and medical cases.
In Tel Aviv, extra police units have been mobilized, mainly around the city’s central bus station and train stations, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. Israelis quickly returned to routine: the outdoor cafe area where the shooting took place was open to customers on Thursday morning.
Two Palestinians opened fire near a popular open-air market in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, killing four Israelis and wounding nine others, in one of the deadliest attacks in an eight-month wave of violence.
The shooting occurred at the Sarona market, a series of restored buildings that have been transformed into a popular tourist spot filled with crowded shops and restaurants. The complex is across the street from Israel’s military headquarters and is often filled with tourists and young soldiers in uniform.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his defense minister and security leaders shortly after the attack and then traveled to the scene. He called the attack a “cold blooded murder by despicable terrorists,” according to a statement from his office.
Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, welcomed the attack but did not claim responsibility for it. Hamas official Mushir al-Masri called the shootings a “heroic operation” and the group later issued an official statement promising the “Zionists” more “surprises” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.