Two Palestinians armed with axes attacked passers-by in Israel, killing at least three people and injuring four others before fleeing the scene, authorities said on Friday. The attack took place late Thursday night in Elad, a Jewish ultra-Orthodox city east of Tel Aviv, reports Xinhua news agency. "We are on a manhunt for the terrorists," police spokesman Eli Levi said in a briefing to reporters, adding that roadblocks were set up and a helicopter was dispatched to search for the two attackers who apparently fled in a vehicle. Eli Bin, CEO of the Magen David Adom rescue service, told reporters that one injured person was in critical condition, another sustained serious wounds, while two others were in moderate-to-light condition. No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the Palestinian Hamas militants have praised the attack as a response to Israeli actions at Jerusalem's flashpoint holy site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The attack came at the end of Israel's Independence Day, which marks the country's statehood in 1948.
"The joy of Independence Day was cut short in an instant. A murderous attack in Elad that shocks the heart and soul," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that the "enemies launched a murderous campaign against Jews... We will lay our hands on the terrorists and their supportive environment, and they will pay the price". Meanwhile, the Israeli military announced that a general closure imposed on Tuesday on the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be prolonged until Sunday instead of Friday "following a security assessment". "Crossings into Israel will be open for Palestinians on a humanitarian basis, under special circumstances or for medical reasons only," the military said in a statement. The latest attack came amid rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions caused by a recent spate of deadly attacks and repeated clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.