Two gunmen opened fire at the Sarona mall in Tel Aviv Wednesday, June 8 at 9:30 p.m. The men-later identified as two brothers from Hebron-disguised themselves as Orthodox Jews and killed four and wounded ten in the attack. The two are now in custody. It’s the latest event in a string of renewed violence dating back to October’s burst of violence throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Shortly after the attacks, Palestinian media began to report that some in the West Bank were celebrating the attack. “Hebron: Palestinians take to the streets to celebrate Tel Aviv attack,” read a tweet from veteran Palestinian reporter Khaled Abu Toameh. Another tweet of pictures from the Hamas news outlet Shehab Agency read “young men hand out sweets in Tulkarem in honor of the Ramadan operation that killed four Zionists and wounded another eleven in Tel Aviv.” The pictures showed young men handing out sweets to passerbys.
Hebron: Palestinians take to the streets to celebrate Tel Aviv shooting attack.— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) June 8, 2016
International media reported this as well, with Fox News citing Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld’s claims of celebrations, for example.
However, some on Twitter began to hypothesize that the celebrations were simply Ramadan festivities. “Palestinians generally set off fireworks every single night during Ramadan,” tweeted journalist Gregg Carlstrom, who has spent considerable time in the West Bank. His tweet quoted another from the Israeli government spokesman for Arabic media Ofir Gendelman, who claimed Palestinians were celebrating the attacks with fireworks.
Palestinians generally set off fireworks every single night during Ramadan https://t.co/XV3nlLW6QP— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) June 8, 2016
Indeed, Palestinians often shoot fireworks and hand out sweets during Ramadan. Carlstrom’s tweet then set off a debate. Some accused him of naivety; others agreed. In the replies, Carlstrom later acknowledged that such celebrations of attacks sometimes occur, but declared the need for context when dealing with unconfirmed reports.
On that note, Al Bawaba has been unable to independently verify whether the reported celebrations were in support of the attack or simply Ramadan celebrations to date.
Regardless, the attack is bound to raise tensions and stoke fears among the Israelis and Palestinians in the days to come.
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