Italian tourist killed and seven injured in car ramming attack in Tel Aviv

Jonathan Kanengoni

The Independent  /  April 8, 2023

Two British women were also killed in a separate attack in the West Bank.

An Italian tourist has been killed and seven other people injured in a car-ramming attack near a beach in Tel Aviv.

Police said a 30-year-old Italian man was among a group of Italian and British citizens who were hit by a car late on Friday.

A 74-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl are among seven people who were injured in the attack. Of those wounded, three suffered moderate injuries and four sustained only light injuries, officials said.

Police said they shot and killed the driver of the car, who was identified as a 45-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Israel-Palestinian village of Kafr Qassem.

A video circulating on social media showed the car hurtling along a sidewalk for several hundred metres before crashing out of control.

Italian premier Giorgia Meloni’s office expressed “closeness to the family of the victim” and “solidarity with Israel for the vile attack”. She identified the man killed as Alessandro Parini from Rome. Mr Parini worked as a lawyer in Rome, Italian media reported.

In a separate incident, two British-Israeli sisters [Jewish settlers] were shot to death near a settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The two women, both in their 20s, were killed while their mother, 45, was seriously wounded, Israeli and British officials said.

They lived in the Efrat Jewish settlement, near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, said Oded Revivi, the settlement’s mayor.

Their father was driving in a car behind his daughters and witnessed the attack, the mayor added.

Medics said they dragged the unconscious women from the smashed car, which appeared to have been pushed off the road.

No groups claimed responsibility for either attack, but the Hamas militant group that rules Gaza praised both incidents as retaliation for Israeli raids earlier this week on the Al-Aqsa Mosque – the third-holiest site in Islam.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the scene with defence minister Yoav Gallant late on Friday.

“It’s just a matter of time, and not much time, until we settle the score,” Mr Netanyahu said.

The attack follows days of violence and unrest in Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City.

Mr Netanyahu said he was calling up all reserve forces in Israel’s border police “to confront the terror attacks”.

The Hamas militant group that rules Gaza praised the attack in Tel Aviv as a response to Israel’s “crimes against Al-Aqsa Mosque and worshippers”.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement: “We are saddened to hear about the deaths of two British-Israeli citizens and the serious injuries sustained by a third individual. The UK calls for all parties across the region to de-escalate tensions.”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Saturday condemned the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians, urging all parties to exercise restraint and promote calm for the ongoing religious holidays.


Violence in Tel Aviv leaves one Italian tourist dead and five injured

Bethan McKernan

The Guardian  /  April 8, 2023

Italian tourist dies and Britons among injured after driver rams people near beach, Israeli officials report.

An Italian man has died and five other British and Italian tourists have been injured in an attack in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, the latest episode of violence after several days of rising tensions sparked fears of a broader conflagration in the region.

The 30-year-old Italian died from a gunshot wound, Israel’s rescue service said on Friday night, the Jewish holy day. At the same time, Israeli police said a car had been driven into people near the beach, and that the driver had been shot and killed.

It was not immediately clear if there had been one incident or two separate ones.

Israeli media reported that the assailant was a Palestinian citizen of Israel, from the northern town of Kafr Qasem.

The Italian man was named as Alessandro Parini from Rome by the country’s premier, Giorgia Meloni, who expressed “solidarity with Israel for the vile attack”. Israel’s rescue service said five other British and Italian tourists — including a 74-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl — were receiving medical treatment for mild to moderate injuries.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered the mobilisation of police and army reserves after the incident, his office said in a statement.

Video of the incident shared on social media showed that the car had veered off the street and on to a path before flipping over over on to the beach.

The attack comes against a backdrop of fears of escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drawing in the powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah after Israel bombed sites in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon early on Friday in response to rocket fire blamed on Palestinian militants from the two territories.

Israel and Lebanon are technically still at war, and Thursday’s barrage of about 34 rockets aimed at northern Israel was the biggest flare-up between the two countries since a short war with the Iran-backed militant group in 2006.

The situation along the borders appeared to have calmed by dawn, and the lack of casualties in the frontier standoffs also suggested that no side wanted to risk further hostilities.

More than 130,000 worshippers attended Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s holiest site, which passed without significant incident despite the tensions and an influx of pilgrims celebrating the rare overlapping festivals of Easter, Passover and Ramadan.

But a shooting attack in the West Bank which killed two British-Israeli sisters [Jewish settlers] and critically injured their mother a few hours later, the shooting down of a drone that entered Israeli territory from Lebanon, and the attack in Tel Aviv suggested that wider escalation is still a substantial threat.

A US state department spokesperson on Friday “strongly condemned” the attacks, and said the “targeting of innocent civilians of any nationality is unconscionable.”

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson called for “all parties across the region to de-escalate tensions.”

The current round of fighting began on Wednesday, after Israeli police twice raided occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is sacred to Muslims and Jews, who call it the Temple Mount. Video of police beating Palestinian worshippers with batons and the butts of rifles was met with widespread anger across the Muslim world, and led on Thursday to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Hezbollah, the Shia group that helps Israel’s arch enemy Iran project its power across the region, has faced extensive attacks by Israel in Syrian territory over the past week, striking at what Israel believes to be drone manufacturing sites. At least two members of the organisation have been killed.

The militant group has vowed to strike back, but, like Hamas, is wary of an escalation. The violence at Al-Aqsa may have offered a pretext for retaliation. Although Israel said Hamas was behind the attack from Lebanon, it is widely believed that Hezbollah must have greenlighted the move.

This week’s violence comes after the deadliest start to the year in Israel and the occupied West Bank since the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in the 2000s. About 90 Palestinians, roughly half of them combatants, have been killed by Israeli fire so far this year, according to tallies by human rights groups. Palestinian “lone wolf” attacks have killed 16 Israelis, all but one of them civilians, three Ukrainians and the Italian national shot on Friday.

Israel has also been roiled by political turmoil since the most rightwing government in the country’s history took office at the end of last year. Huge protests against the coalition’s proposed judicial overhaul have included large numbers of military reservists, raising concerns about operational readiness.

Netanyahu publicly fired his defence minister two weeks ago for voicing opposition to the judicial overhaul, but he appears to have remained in post.

Bethan McKernan is Jerusalem correspondent for The Guardian