Two Dead, 11 Wounded in Shooting Attack in Southern Israel

Gunman kills soldier in shooting spree in Be'er Sheva; security guard shoots and kills asylum seeker after misidentifying him as an assailant.

Eliyahu Hershkovitz

An Israeli soldier was killed and 11 others were wounded in a shooting at the Central Bus Station in the Southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva on Sunday evening. An Eritrean asylum seeker was shot and killed during the incident after a security guard misidentified him as a terrorist. The terrorist was also shot and killed. 

Among the wounded, two are in serious condition, with another said to be critical. The others sustained light to moderate wounds. According to the police, the identity of the terrorist is currently being ascertained. The soldier has been named as 19-year-old Sgt. Omri Levy from Sdei Hemed.

Following the initial gunfire, a security guard fired toward an asylum seeker, evidently thinking he is linked to the gunman. The asylum seeker, identified as Habtom Zarhum, 29, of Eritrea, traveled to Be'er Sheva to obtain a visa and was on his way home when he was shot. In videos captured at the scene, the asylum seeker is seen attacked by the people around him, including a soldier, after being shot. The people are seen kicking him, throwing a bench at him and pinning him to the ground with a chair. Some of the witnesses made efforts to stop the attackers. 

The bus station is a closed compound with security guards posted at the entrances. It is unclear how the gunmen managed to get past the guards.

The southern district chief of police, Deputy Commissioner Yoram Levi, said: "One armed terrorist entered the central bus station and shot at a soldier and killed him. He continued his shooting spree, took the soldier's gun and continued shooting in the central bus station. Forces in the area responded quickly, he managed to escape the central bus station but ran into forces, was shot and killed. In his belongings we found a knife and a pistol with ammunition."

Over the weekend, three Israeli officers were wounded in separate terror attacks in and around Hebron. Six Palestinian assailants were shot dead during alleged knife attacks, including two in the capital.

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The terror wave started over two weeks ago, when a suspected Hamas cell shot dead Naama and Eitam Henkin who were driving with their four children near the settlement of Elon Moreh in the West Bank. Eight Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings, and 19 suspected terrorists were shot dead.

Eight Palestinians, including five teens, were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Twelve more Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops along the Gaza border.