The area in which the fire broke out was also evacuated, leading to an altercation with a man who refused to leave and who attacked a policeman during the ensuing row. The policeman was hospitalized with minor injuries and the man, who was in his 40s, was arrested. No one else was hurt during the incident.
Shoshi Frenkel was in the cinema with a friend when the smoke detectors suddenly started sounding.
"Someone from the movie theater came in and told us people were being asked to leave," she said. "The cinema was fine, but when we came out there was black smoke and we could barely see.
"We went down (the escalator) towards the food court, but that was filled with black smoke too, and it seemed that the smoke was coming from there. Someone said that there were gas cylinders in the area and that we should hurry out, but people continued to sit and eat and were not rushing. It was only 10 minutes after (the fire) started that people started to leave."
Another visitor to the mall told Ynet: "There was a fire alarm for a few minutes, and when I went into the hallway to find out what was happening, I saw it was full of black smoke."
Daniel Revivo, who was shopping at the mall, said: "I was in a cafe next to the cinema, and then black smoke began to rise, alarms went off and everyone started to run. The security guards told everyone to run downstairs and clear the upper floors and a few minutes later firefighters arrived. At first I could not understand where the fire was coming from - it was frightening."
A spokesperson for the mall said: "The Azrieli Mall Ayalon operations team, together with the security forces and the fire department, quickly and efficiently took control of a local fire that broke out in the kitchen of the Shipudei Hatikva kitchen in the mall's dining area.
"The mall has now returned to normal and continues to be safe for visitors and employees. The cause of the fire will be thoroughly investigated by the mall management, the authorities and relevant agencies, in order to ensure that such an incident occurs in the future."
The fire comes just days after wildfires swept across the country, destroying dozens of homes and burning vast swathes of woodland before they were brought under control.