The Tel Aviv Terrorists: Two Cousins From a West Bank Town, Influenced by Hamas

A relative of the two said they left home three days ago. Among their family members is a senior Hamas commander sentenced to seven life terms and a member released in the Shilat deal.

Mohammad Ahmad Mahamra, left, and Khaled Mahamra, the two perpetrators of the shooting attack in Tel Aviv's Sarona marketplace on Wednesday night.

The cousins who perpetrated the shooting attack in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night were not Hamas members but were influenced by its ideology, according to relatives of the two.

Khaled Mohammed Mahamra and Mohammed Ahmad Mahamra, both from the West Bank town of Yatta, shot and killed four Israelis at the Sarona marketplace, killing Ido Ben Ari, 42, Ilana Naba, 39, Michael Feige, 58, and Mila Mishayev, 32.

A relative told Haaretz that they left home three days ago, after which their tracks disappeared. He said the family was surprised to hear their names after the attack and when security forces showed up at their door. He said that Khaled studied law at Mutah University in Jordan, while Mohammed worked in construction sites in the Be'er Sheva area.

The Mahamra family is big in Yatta, which is near Hebron. One of its members is Khaled Mahamra, a Hamas member who was released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and re-arrested after the kidnap of the three Jewish youths in 2014. Another relative is Taleb Mahamra, who was a commander in the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of Hamas, and is serving seven life sentences.

The relative said that the two terrorists were not officially Hamas members, but they were influenced by the atmosphere and by being related to people associated with the group. Musa Mahamra, the head of the Yatta council and a distant relative of the terrorists, also told Haaretz that the two were not members of any terror group, and certainly not the military wing of Hamas. He added they had no security-related record.

"We are very surprised, and the only explanation to what happened is that the two were influence by what has recently transpired," the council head said. "In the Hebron area, including Yatta, they paid a heavy price regarding the number of killed and incidents, and it probably influenced them. He added that during the siege of his city, security forces conducted house searches and arrested one of the family members and other residents.