Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack in which two Israeli police were killed in the northern city of Hadera on Sunday. The claim was made in a statement posted on its Telegram account.
Police said that “two terrorists arrived at Herbert Samuel Street in Hadera, and began shooting at a police force there,” resulting in two deaths.
Members of “an Israeli counter-terrorism force happened to be in a restaurant nearby and they ran out and neutralised the terrorists”, police said in a statement.
According to the SITE intelligence group, this is the first time since 2017 that IS has officially claimed an attack in Israel.
Sunday’s deadly attack comes as four Arab foreign ministers and the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, are gathering in southern Israel in an unprecedented regional meeting.
Dudu Boani, the police deputy commander for the region, told reporters that the two victims of the attack were police officers. He confirmed the assailants had been shot dead.
The Magen David Adom emergency medical responders said that “two Israelis” – a man and a woman – had been killed in the attack, while four other people were taken to hospital and two more treated at the scene.
Residents in Umm al-Fahm, near Hadera, said police had been deployed heavily in the Arab Israeli city.
An Israeli security official said the two assailants were Islamic State group operatives from Umm al-Fahm.
Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz’s office said he was conducting a situation assessment with military, police and intelligence heads, while prime minister Naftali Bennett had arrived in Hadera and had been briefed by police on the attack, his office said.
The army said in a statement that it was deploying additional forces in and around the occupied West Bank.
Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, praised the attack, calling it a “heroic operation” and a “natural and legitimate response” to Israel’s “crimes against our people”.
Islamic Jihad, another Gaza-based militant Palestinian movement, called the attack “an eloquent message from our people against attempts to break our will”.
As Sunday’s attack took place, Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, was hosting his counterparts from three Arab states that recently normalised ties with Israel, alongside Egypt’s top diplomat and the US secretary of state, at a resort in southern Israel, in a gathering that Israel called “historic”.
“I briefed the participants of the Negev Summit on the details of the Hadera attack,” Lapid said in a statement. “All the foreign ministers condemned the attack, sent their condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
“Tonight’s heinous terror attack is an attempt by violent extremists to terrorise and to damage the fabric of life here,” Lapid said. “Israel will uncompromisingly fight terrorism, and we will resolutely stand together with our allies against anyone who tries to harm us.”
An Israeli official told AFP that the attack had not prevented the gathering from taking place.
The ministers were dining together on Sunday night, and on Monday were due to hold a series of meetings.