TEL AVIV – Hamas praised the terror attack in Tel Aviv that left four people dead and another 16 injured on Wednesday evening, saying it was to avenge Israeli “violations” at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
“The Tel Aviv operation is a natural response to Israeli desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the crimes against the Palestinian people,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement, but failed to specify the nature of the “violations and crimes.”
The Gaza-based Islamist group earlier announced that the two terrorists were Hamas members. Hamas praised the shooting as a “heroic operation” and warned the “Zionists” of “more surprises” to follow.
Hamas added that the attack was “a message from children of the resistance to leaders of the occupation, especially [Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman],” who took office last week.
The terror group’s chief, Ismail Haniyeh, called the wounded terrorist a “hero” and said he was praying for his soul.
Abu Zuhri also threatened more attacks and said that the attack was evidence that the “Intifada” is continuing and all attempts by Israel to stop the wave of violence were failing.
Hamas stopped sort of claiming responsibility for the attack. But a statement from the terrorist group warned it “is the first of many surprises that will be waiting” for Israel during this Ramadan season.
The attack occurred during the first week of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, a time when tensions are high. As a result of increased visits to the Temple Mount during the month of fasting, Israel had announced that more permits would be granted to Muslims living in the West Bank and Gaza to visit Jerusalem.
The flashpoint site has been used as a justification for terror attacks on Israelis in the past, with the Palestinian leadership accusing Israel of plans to change the Temple Mount’s status quo. The site is the holiest place in Judaism, where its two Temples once stood. Jews are arrested if they are caught praying on the site, now under control of the Islamic Waqf.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad threatened more violence, saying that the “Jerusalem Intifada” will not end until “all of Palestine is restored.”
“He who bets on the decline of the Jerusalem Intifada is taking a losing bet. Our people will continue this intifada and defend its right until the defeat of the occupation and the restoration of all of Palestine,” spokesman Daud Shahab said.
The Fatah party led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas posted on Twitter that Israel was “reaping the repercussions of choosing violence against the Palestinian people.”
The mainly Arab Joint List party in the Knesset condemned the attack, but added that Israel’s leadership was responsible for the violence.
“I painfully regret the terrible attack on citizens,” chairman of the Joint List faction Ayman Odeh said in a statement. “My heart goes out to the families.”
“This government is leading all of us only to the depths of hatred and violence,” he said. “The general Israeli and Palestinian population should be excluded from the circle of horror and blood. Together we must campaign in a justified way to bring justice and peace to both peoples,” he added.
Watch a video of the attack below. Warning: graphic footage.