Makeshift memorial set up as Tel Aviv streets abnormally silent after terror attack
Outside of Ilka Bar, the Tel Aviv open-air nightspot where Ra’ad Hazem killed two and wounded 13 people on Thursday evening, a makeshift memorial has already taken shape.
Next to a handwritten sign that says “Jewish blood is not cheap” in Hebrew, passersby stopped Friday morning to light and place memorial candles, adding to the growing collection. The area has been tidied up and cordoned off by blue police barricades, with flowers already placed on the spot where just hours before, young Tel Avivians gathered at the close of the Israeli work week.
Around 9 p.m. on Thursday night, Palestinian terrorist Ra’ad Hazem, a 28-year-old from Jenin in the northern West Bank, approached the popular bar on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street and opened fire, striking 15 people. The street — well-known for its nightlife and eateries — has long been a target of attacks, most recently a 2016 deadly shooting on watering hole Simta, similarly situated on the open-air sidewalk and just 200 meters from Ilka.
Following a house-to-house manhunt overnight that involved over 1,000 police and security personnel, Hazem was located several kilometers away in Jaffa. He was killed Friday morning in a firefight with security forces.
“There was a tremendous amount of shooting,” said Michael, a Jaffa resident who lives near the mosque where Hazem was hiding and was woken up around 5:30 a.m. by the exchange of fire. “It went on for a minute at least. It was intense.”
In the hours after the attack, the sounds of police patrols punctuated the abnormal silence on what would usually be a chirpy Friday morning, the start of Israel’s weekend.
Instead, families and friends started the morning by gathering in Dizengoff Square, just a few hundred meters from Ilka Bar, where prayer groups were organized.
“We are gathering in response to last night’s terror attack,” said one of the organizers from Rosh Yehudi, a Tel Aviv-based community who brought prayer books, tefillin, chairs and a mechitza to the plaza for a solidarity prayer.
“I’m not a super religious person, but I saw them going by the square,” said Roi, a Tel Aviv resident.
“I live nearby. I asked if I could join. They said yes and gave me tefillin. I felt like it was the right thing to do,” he said, adding that about a hundred people were present for morning prayers.