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The Islamic State claims responsibility for the deaths of 2 people in central Israel

Israeli security forces gather at the site of an attack that left two Israeli police dead in the northern city of Hadera on Sunday.
GIL COHEN-MAGEN
/
AFP via Getty Images
Israeli security forces gather at the site of an attack that left two Israeli police dead in the northern city of Hadera on Sunday.

TEL AVIV, Israel — The militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility on Monday after a pair of Arab gunmen killed two people and wounded four in central Israel before they were killed by police.

The two killed in the Sunday night attack were Israeli police officers, authorities said.

It was the second deadly attack carried out by Arab assailants in an Israeli city in less than a week ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. On Tuesday, a lone attacker inspired by the Islamic State group killed four people in a stabbing rampage in southern Israel before he was killed by passersby, police said.

The attacks threatened to cast a shadow over a gathering of foreign ministers in the Negev desert, where the Iranian nuclear deal was expected to top the agenda. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett rushed to the scene of the shootings late Sunday.

The Islamic State group in a posting on its Aamaq news agency claims responsibility for the attack, saying two IS members killed two Israeli security forces.

"The heart is broken" by the attacks, Bennett said Monday. The Israeli premier issued the statement from home, after testing positive for the coronavirus. He urged people to be vigilant. Police were expected to set up checkpoints on major roads Tuesday.

Ramadan is expected to begin on Saturday. Last year, clashes between Israeli police and Muslim protesters during the holy month boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Condemnation for the attacks poured in from governments around the world.

"Such senseless acts of violence and murder have no place in society," tweeted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who attended the gathering in the Negev with the foreign ministers of four Arab countries and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, praised the attack as a "heroic operation."

Security camera footage circulating on Israeli media showed two bearded men appearing to open fire in the city of Hadera before they are shot. An Israeli official said two members of the Israeli Border Police counterterrorism unit were in a restaurant near the attack, ran out and killed the assailants.

The Israeli rescue service MADA confirmed the deaths of one man and one woman, and said four people were wounded, two seriously. It released videos showing large numbers of police cars and ambulances in the area.

IS operates mainly in Iraq and Syria, where it has recently stepped up attacks against security forces there carried out through sleeper cells, despite its territorial defeat more than three years ago. The extremist group has also claimed attacks against Israeli troops in the past and has branches in Afghanistan and in Asia and beyond.

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