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Israeli shoe salesman shoots terrorist

Originally ran here as:
"Gunman Kills 3 in Tel Aviv Eatery"
by Yoav Appel, Press Writer
Washington Post
March 4, 2002

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL -- A gunman opened fire at a Tel Aviv restaurant early Tuesday, killing three people and wounding 25 before he was shot to death, officials said.

A shoe salesman who was eating said he pulled his own gun and shot the attacker. It wasn't immediately clear if police also returned fire.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack in telephone calls to local TV stations, Israel Radio reported. The callers identified the attacker as a Palestinian from the Jebalya refugee camp next to Gaza City.

Police said the assault on the all-night restaurant was carried out by a lone gunman, but did not further describe him.

"A man fired with an M-16," Tel Aviv police commander Uri Bar-Lev told Israel Radio.

"He also apparently tried to throw a grenade, but it did not explode," said police commander Yossi Sedbon, also over Israel Radio. Sedbon said the attacker also stabbed people with a knife.

Shoe salesman William Hazan told the station that amid the violence he saw a tall man fighting with someone else.

"I thought he was beating the terrorist. Then the tall man stabbed me in the back with a knife. Then I understood that he was the terrorist. Right away I started firing at him," said Hazan.

The attack came during an especially violent period in the 17-month conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In weekend attacks, Palestinians killed 22 Israelis, and in reprisals, Israeli forces killed 16 Palestinians on Monday.

"We saw a terrorist firing toward the restaurant and then entering," said a witness, who gave his name as Effie and said he is the owner of the business, called "Seafood." "He was firing all the time." He said the attack lasted about five minutes.

"We were dancing and all of a sudden we heard gunshots. We all hid under the tables," said another witness, who declined to be identified.

Yosef Cohen, the Tel Aviv area director of the Magen David Adom rescue services, said the wounded were all taken to local hospitals.

The attacker was not immediately identified. Police were searching the area for accomplices and explosives, police said, and a helicopter was in the air over the area.

Police asked other restaurant and night club owners in Tel Aviv to close and send their customers home.

The attack took place at 2:15 a.m. at the restaurant on Petah Tikva Road, a main street in Tel Aviv. The restaurant is near the offices of the Maariv daily.

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