Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman pledged to hunt down and punish all those involved in Wednesday night’s terrorist attack on a Tel Aviv cafe, as stunned city residents flocked to the site of the shooting that left four people dead.
Some lit candles and others held an impromptu ceremony, sitting in a circle around an Israeli flag and singing songs.
“I promise that all those involved in yesterday’s deadly terrorist attack will not escape punishment,” Liberman said on Thursday night, at a ceremony at Mount Adir on Israel’s northern border marking 10 years since the Second Lebanon War. “We will find each and every one of them. They and their families will pay.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site of the attack at the Sarona Market compound filled with trendy cafes and shops, where the two terrorists – cousins from Yatta – had gone on a shooting spree in the Max Brenner cafe.
“This nation is strong and they will not stop us,” Netanyahu said. “I know personally the pain their families feel. We stand with them, and wish the wounded a speedy recovery.”
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) spent Thursday questioning the injured gunman, who was caught after he had gone to a home near Sarona and asked for help. The family believed he was a victim and took him in.
The husband, a policeman, left the house for Sarona, but when he saw the second gunmen wounded at the scene, he understood that a terrorist was in his house. He led colleagues back to his house to arrest the man. The second gunman’s injuries have prevented police from questioning him.
The investigation is currently focused on the intelligence track. The Shin Bet is seeking to track down anyone who aided the attack, including a possible driver who brought the men to Tel Aviv, and the arms provider who gave them the improvised semi-automatic firearms used to murder four civilians.
The IDF briefed the cabinet on Thursday afternoon on measures they had taken after the attack.
A closure was imposed on the South Hebron Hills village of Yatta, where the two terrorists had lived. The IDF rescinded permits to work in Israel that had been given to all members of their immediate and extended families.
Visitor permits for 83,000 Palestinians in the West Bank to visit Israel during the Ramadan holiday were also rescinded.
The IDF said funds to close the gaps in the security barrier in the area of the Tarkumiya checkpoint, between Kiryat Gat and Hebron, had already been set aside, and that work would begin on June 28.
It is believed that the two terrorists left the West Bank through that area. Until the gap in that area is closed, the IDF plans to post more soldiers there.
Additionally, Liberman halted the return of terrorists’ bodies to their families in response to Wednesday’s attack.
His predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, had opposed such a policy, which had already been periodically put in place over the last seven months.
The IDF believes that it inflames tensions among Palestinians in the West Bank, rather than reduces them.
The US urged Israel to be restrained in its response.
“We understand the Israeli government’s desire to protect its citizens after this kind of terrorist attack,” said Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department. “We would just hope that any measures that Israel takes would be designed to not escalate tensions any further, but we certainly respect their desire to express outrage and to protect the safety of their people.”
But the father of victim Ido Ben Ari chastised the government at his son’s funeral for not doing enough.
“There is nothing harder for a father than burying his son,” Avraham Ben Ari said. “Our leaders need to respond strategically and not with mantras and laundered words.”
The three other victims were Ilana Naveh, Michael Feige and Mila Mishaev.
The US, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United Nations harshly condemned the attack.
United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the shooting, and conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims and the government of Israel. Ban reiterated that there is no justification for terrorism, “nor for the glorification of those who commit such heinous acts.”
The secretary-general said he was “shocked that the leaders of Hamas have chosen to welcome this attack, and some have chosen to celebrate it,” and he called upon the Palestinian leadership to “live up to their responsibility to stand firmly against violence and the incitement that fuels it.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came as close as he has ever come since September to issuing such a condemnation against terrorism, without mentioning Israel.
“The presidency has repeatedly emphasized that it stands against attacks on civilians, regardless of their backgrounds or justifications,” Abbas said.
“Achieving just peace and creating a positive atmosphere is the way to ease tension and end violence.”
Netanyahu said that Abbas’s words were not enough.
“We did not hear condemnation from the Palestinian Authority, and there were celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza,” he said. “This is who we are up against. We will win.”Danielle Ziri, Michael Wilner and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.