Two Israeli police were killed in a “terrorist” attack Sunday in the northern city of Hadera before officers shot the assailants dead, police and medics said.
The deadly attack comes as four Arab foreign ministers and the US secretary of state are gathering in southern Israel in an unprecedented regional meeting.
Police said that “two terrorists arrived at Herbert Samuel Street in Hadera, and began shooting at a police force there,” resulting in two deaths.
Members of “an Israeli counterterrorism force happened to be in a restaurant nearby and they ran out and neutralised the terrorists,” police said in a statement.
Dudu Boani, the police deputy commander for the region, told reporters that the two victims of the attack were police officers.
He said the assailants were shot dead.
The Magen David Adom emergency medical responders said that “two Israelis” were killed in the attack a man and a woman with four other people taken to hospital and two more treated at the scene.
Residents in Umm El Fahm, near Hadera, said police had deployed heavily in the Arab Israeli city.
An Israeli security official said the two assailants were Islamic State group operatives from Umm El Fahm.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s office said he was conducting a situation assessment with military, police and intelligence chiefs, while Prime Minister Naftali Bennett arrived in Hadera and was briefed by police on the attack, his office said.
The army said in a statement that it was deploying additional forces in and around the occupied West Bank.
Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, praised the attack, calling it a “heroic operation” and a “natural and legitimate response” to Israel’s “crimes against our people”.
Islamic Jihad, another Gaza-based militant Palestinian movement, called the attack “an eloquent message from our people against attempts to break our will”.
On Tuesday, a man wielding a knife stabbed several people and ran over another in southern Israel, killing four, in one of the deadliest attacks in the country in recent years.
Authorities identified the attacker as an Israeli Arab who had previously been convicted for supporting the Islamic State group.
As Sunday’s attack took place, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was hosting his counterparts from three Arab states that recently normalised ties with Israel, alongside Egypt’s top diplomat and the US secretary of state, at a resort in southern Israel, in a gathering that Israel called “historic”.
“I briefed the participants of the Negev Summit on the details of the Hadera attack,” Lapid said in a statement.
“All the foreign ministers condemned the attack, sent their condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
“Tonight’s heinous terror attack is an attempt by violent extremists to terrorise and to damage the fabric of life here,” Lapid said.
“Israel will uncompromisingly fight terrorism, and we will resolutely stand together with our allies against anyone who tries to harm us.”
An Israeli official told AFP that the attack had not prevented the gathering from taking place.
The ministers were dining together Sunday night, and on Monday were due to hold a series of meetings.