March 28 (UPI) — Two police officers were fatally shot in a terrorist attack committed by the Islamic State in northern Israel, authorities and officials said, as the United States’ top diplomat was in the country for a historic summit with several Arab nations.
The border police officers killed Sunday night have been identified as Shirel Aboukaret and Yezen Falah, both 19 years of age.
Bennett, who is attending meetings concerning the shooting from home after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier Monday morning, mourned the death of the two officers in a statement, saying they were killed “while defending civilians with their bodies from vile murders.”
“The heart is broken,” he said. “We will not forget their heroism.”
The shooting began at about 8:30 p.m. when two people exited a vehicle and opened fire on police in the city of Hadera, killing the two officers and injuring several others, including civilians, Israel Police said in a statement.
The shooters were “neutralized” by undercover police who confronted them after the violence erupted, authorities said, adding that at least two officers were “moderately injured” in the exchange in gunfire.
All those injured in the incident have been transferred to Hadera’s Hillel Yafe Medical Center for treatment.
Israel’s foreign ministry called the shooting “a terrorist attack” in a tweet Sunday night.
“Tonight’s heinous terror attack is an attempt by violent extremists to terrorize and to damage the fabric of life here,” foreign minister Yair Lapid said. “The State of Israel will uncompromisingly fight terrorism, and we will resolutely stand together with our allies against anyone who tries to harm us.”
The shooting occurred as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates were in the country for an historic summit as the Untied States seeks to revive Iran nuclear deal negotiations.
Lapid said the foreign diplomats had been informed of the attack and all condemned it and asked for their condolences to be sent to the families of the victims.
“We condemn today’s terrorist attack in Hadera, Israel,” Blinken tweeted on Sunday. “Such senseless acts of violence and murder have no place in society. We stand with our Israeli partners.”
According to the prime minister’s office, Bennett arrived Sunday night in Hadera and spoke with one of the counterterrorism officers who shot and killed the two gunmen. He also held a situation assessment with security personnel.
The attack came less than a week after four people were killed in an attack in southern Israel.
Bennett said Monday that both attacks were committed by supporters of the Islamic State terrorist organization and that security forces are now required to adjust themselves to the new threat.
“I call on citizens to continue being alert,” he said Monday morning. “Together, we will defeat this enemy as well.”