Market Massacre

Tel Aviv Attackers Ordered Dessert, Then Opened Fire

Dressed in suits, the two men could have been any cafe-goers at Max Brenner—until they started shooting ‘point-blank,’ as several witnesses told The Daily Beast on Wednesday night.

JERUSALEM — Two men wearing suits and ties entered the Max Brenner chocolate restaurant on Wednesday night, ordered dessert, and sat down.

But it wasn’t long, restaurant staffers told The Daily Beast, before they jumped up and started shooting, leaving four dead and six injured in and around Tel Aviv’s popular Sarona food market.

“Without touching the food they got up, pulled out their weapons, and opened fire on pedestrians near the restaurant and in streets adjoining the food market,” said a member of staff Yousef Jabari of Umm al-Fahm.

As gunshots rang out throughout the facility, which is near Israeli military headquarters, diners fled their tables in a rush to get away from the shooters, both described as Palestinian.

Ambulances rushed to the scene as the wounded stumbled out of the food market.

Avraham Liber had been sitting at Max Brenner eating ice cream with friends. He was facing the shooter.

“I saw him,” he told The Daily Beast. “It looked like he was sitting in a chair at the cafe and he had a rifle in his hand. He was just shooting point-blank at people. He didn’t say anything.”

Meital Gonen, who manages a nearby clothing store, said victims sought shelter with her amid the gunfire.

“We heard gunshots and then we saw people running into our store, and they said that there was a terrorist—‘Please open the door!’ They were screaming and yelling, and there was a lot of blood and people dying.

“We opened the door to let people in to make sure they were safe.”

Seven wounded were evacuated to Ichilov hospital, where one died, and another was taken to Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.

Four remain in serious condition, and two are in fair condition.

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Tel Aviv police chief Chico Edri told reporters that one of the shooters was caught and arrested, while the other was shot and wounded, and was undergoing surgery.

Later, Israeli authorities said the shooters, both 21, whose names have yet to be confirmed, were two Palestinians from the same family, possibly cousins, from Yatta, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

Soon after midnight, Israeli forces conducted a raid on the town.

The attack, the third shooting attack in Tel Aviv this year, is the worst in eight months of violence that has claimed the lives of 32 Israelis, two Americans, and about 200 Palestinians, most of them attackers.

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh praised one of the shooters, calling him a hero.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed at Ben Gurion Airport from Moscow soon after the attacked and headed to the Defense Ministry for consultations with newly appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, police chief Roni Alsheich, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, and other officials.

“We’re going to take the necessary steps to attack the attackers and defend those that need defending,” Netanyahu told reporters.

Nikolay Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, immediately condemned the shooting attack.

“All must reject violence and say no to terror,” he said in a statement.

“Our prayers are with the families of those killed. I am also shocked to see Hamas welcome the terror attack. Leaders must stand against violence and the incitement that fuels it, not condone it.”

In Paris last week, representatives from 28 countries, the Arab League, the European Union, and the United Nations met to discuss ways of restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Negotiations came to a standstill in April 2014.