Story highlights

Shootings occur at Sarona Market, a popular gathering place in Tel Aviv

Two terrorists have been captured, Israeli police spokesman tells CNN

Jerusalem CNN —  

Two attackers identified as Palestinians opened fire Wednesday night at a popular food and shopping complex near the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, killing four Israelis and sending other patrons scrambling to safety.

Two terrorists were captured, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, with one shot and the second arrested at the upscale Sarona Market.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “a savage crime, murder in the heart of Tel Aviv.”

“We will take the necessary steps to attack the attackers and defend those who need to be defended,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, released a statement saying it condemns any attack against civilians, regardless of the source.

Violence shatters serene setting

Amir Ohana, a member of the Israeli Parliament who was at Sarona Market, told CNN that people were enjoying a serene night when violence erupted.

Police survey the scene of a terror attack in Tel Aviv.

“People were having coffee,” he said. “I saw a birthday cake on one of the tables. And then you see the chairs upside down and glass shattered and blood all over.”

The four fatalities were Israeli, Rosenfeld said. At least five other people were wounded in the carnage, said Dr. Gil Fire, deputy director of Ichilov Hospital.

An injured suspect also was treated.

Information about a motive wasn’t immediately available. No intelligence suggested an attack was imminent, Rosenfeld said.

The attackers were dressed as Hasidic Jews, said a law enforcement source briefed by Israeli officials. Police officers shot one of the suspects. The other surrendered, Rosenfeld said.

Concerns about security?

Sarona Market is in a “trendy, hip” part of Tel Aviv, and the attackers struck on “a very crowded evening,” Siegel said.

The market is considered a “classic soft terror target,” and is nearly impossible to secure, according to Steve Moore, a CNN law enforcement analyst.

Israelis embrace following the deadly attack.

A press release from the opening of the market described it as an 8,700-square-meter complex with 91 stalls, shops and restaurants selling food from around the globe.

The Jerusalem Post reported in April that Tel Aviv police wanted to close the market because of “security flaws and safety shortcomings that present a risk to the public’s safety.”

But a spokesman for Gindi Holding, which built the market, told the Post the complex would not be closed and that violations only involved tables and chairs blocking entrances and exits and the way security guards were inspecting visitors at the door.

Violence in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is not as violent as Jerusalem, but it has not escaped bloodshed.

Two people were killed in January when a gunman sprayed bullets from an automatic weapon near a pub there. Seven people were wounded.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner issued a statement condemning the “horrific terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in the strongest possible terms.”

An investigator on scene at the Tel Aviv food complex.

“These cowardly attacks against innocent civilians can never be justified,” he said. “We are in touch with Israeli authorities to express our support and concern.”

Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, called on the U.N. Security Council to condemn the attack.

“Today’s heinous attack sadly proves that when the international community refuses to condemn terror against Israelis, the next attack is only a matter of time,” Danon said in a statement. “Terror in Tel Aviv must be treated the same as terror in Paris or Istanbul.”

Rosenfeld said knife attacks have been more common lately, with the last shooting in Tel Aviv occurring months ago.

CNN’s Michael Schwartz, Phil Black and Oren Liebermann reported from Jerusalem. CNN’s Ralph Ellis, Emanuella Grinberg and Steve Visser reported from Atlanta.