Two of the three victims of Thursday night's terrorist shooting at a Tel Aviv pub were identified as Tomer Morad and Eitam Magini — two childhood friends who went to the same high school. The third victim, who passed away hours later, was the father of three small children.
The two 27-year-old Kfar Saba natives were students at Tel Aviv University. Tomer recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and Eitam was studying for a bachelor's in neuroscience, psychology and computer science.
The two will be laid to rest next to each other in the Pardes Haim Cemetery in their hometown on Sunday.
Tomer left a partner, Arielle, who he had met six years ago, while Eitam got engaged to his girlfriend Ayala last month.
At the Morad family's home in Kfar Saba, sister Tal wept as she sat by her parents, Benjamin and Etty. Brother Omri was making his way from the United States back to Israel following the heavy disaster.
"Tomer was the glue that held our group together, an officer in the [IDF's] Nahal [infantry brigade], a man of values, he always took care of everyone and now he was taken from us, and we no longer have Tomer and his friend Eitam," Alon Grossman, a friend of Tomer's, told Ynet in tears.
"They were best friends; they grew up together and went out together. This is a disaster we simply cannot wrap our heads around. We lost two friends who were like brothers. Tomer had a beautiful relationship with Arielle and now everything's ruined.
I cannot understand how we lost my good friend, the excellent cook who always used to spoil us with special and delicious food. They decided to go to a pub and were murdered there."
Gal Benbenishti, another friend of Morad's, said that he tried calling the two when he heard about the shooting and immediately realized something was wrong when they did not pick up the phone.
Yoatm, a friend who served in the army with Magini, said that "Eitam was a role model, I always consulted him. He was a man who took care of everyone."
The shooter was identified as Ra’ad Hazem, a 28-year-old Palestinian from the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. On Thursday night, he arrived at Ilka bar on the city's busy Dizengoff Street and opened fire at a crowd of customers. He was ultimately eliminated by Israeli security forces after hours-long manhunt. Security sources estimate he was familiar with the scene.
After shooting up the pub, Hazem fled the scene through a nearby alley. At this point, the terrorist encountered a man standing about seven feet in front of him. Hazem aimed the gun at the man and fired. Luckily for the man, the bullets missed him and hit a parked vehicle instead. The terrorist then fled southward.
A preliminary investigation of the incident revealed that the terrorist walked five kilometers (three miles) from the scene of the attack to the place where he hid in Jaffa quarter of the coastal financial hub.
Close to a thousand troops, cops and special forces combed building after building in central Tel Aviv until police received information from a Jaffa resident around 5am about a suspicious figure near the Shlomo Bay promenade.
At approximately 5:30am, Shin Bet operatives located the terrorist near a mosque and called on him to freeze. He opened fire at them and was immediately killed in the firefight that ensued.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and said in a statement in Arabic that "killing Palestinian and Israeli civilians will only further exacerbate the situation, as we all strive to achieve stability, especially during the month of Ramadan."
However, he pinned the escalation on Israeli forces' "repeated incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque" and "the provocative actions of extremist settlers everywhere."
Hazem's father, Fathi — a key figure in Abbas's Fatah movement in Jenin and a former officer in the Palestinian security forces — praised his son's actions in a video that circulated online Friday morning.
"[Palestinians] will see victory with the help of Allah, you will get liberty and independence. I pray that Allah would free al-Aqsa from the sullied occupiers," said Fathi Hazem.
Meanwhile, a third victim of Thursday night's deadly shooting was identified as Barak Lufan, 35, from Kibbutz Ginosar in northern Israel. He passed away on Friday afternoon, almost a day after the attack had been perpetrated.
Lufan sustained critical injuries in the attack and passed away at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv. Lufan was once considered one of Israel's leading kayakers. He served as was a Paralympics and Olympic kayaking team coach.
Sourasky Director-General Prof. Ronni Gamzu said that three people who were seriously wounded in the shooting were gradually waking up and their lives were not at immediate risk. Four others were hospitalized with light to moderate wounds.
Over the last two weeks, 13 Israelis were murdered in a spate of Islamist terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, Hadera and Be'er Sheva.
First published: 17:04, 04.08.22