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Ten years ago the “Sarona" site was the run down part of Israeli Army headquarters, and an area of old homes that had once been a German Templer settlement from the 19th century. Directly outside the market two of the most popular restaurants are located – “Max Brenner” (a branch of the famous chain known for their chocolate desserts) and “Benedict” (a Tel Aviv restaurant best known for their all-day breakfasts.) This is a place I often go with my son.
Tonight thousands were enjoying the beautiful summer evening, when at least two gunmen opened fire on those dining at the Benedict eatery. Initial reports indicate that the terrorists were using homemade machine guns and fired until they ran out of ammunition. Based on early information a private security guard from the market was able to subdue one of the attackers. The second attacker ran away from the Sarona market toward a side street. Police officers followed the attacker and shot the second attacker.
Within moments ambulances arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, three of the nine injured victims reached the nearby Icholov hospital too late and doctors were compelled to pronounce their deaths. The remaining six wounded currently in the hospital are all in very serious condition.
Events of the last several hours have shattered the calm that had settled over Israel these last few weeks. Most people believed that the current wave of assaults was essentially over. This attack took place in the very shadow of Israel’s Defense Headquarters. Sarona Market is the very center of what one could call Tel Aviv normalcy. As I have often mentioned to friends, while Tel Aviv may be bubble – i.e. different than other parts of Israel – when you walk into Sarona Market you feel like you are no longer in Israel all together. Tonight it became very clear, regardless of how the market and the larger Sarona area look, they are very much a part of Israel.
Police tonight say there was no warning of this attack. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai told residents this evening that they should listen to police. Tomorrow morning Huldai called on residents to “return to our normal lives”.