Three Israelis were killed and at least seven more were injured in a deadly terror attack that marked a grim end to the country’s 74th Independence Day celebrations on Thursday.
At least one person remains in critical condition, according to Magen David Adom, Israel's national emergency medical service, and the two attackers remain at large as a massive manhunt continues.
All three victims were fathers in their 30s and 40s who, combined, leave behind 16 orphans. They were named early this morning as Yonatan Havakuk, Boaz Gol and Oren Ben Yiftah.
The attack comes at the end of a tense month full of violence surrounding Jerusalem's Old City and the Temple Mount during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. It is the latest in a deadly wave of terror that started in March with a series of attacks that have resulted in 18 fatalities.
Residents of the ultra-Orthodox city of Elad, located near Petah Tikva in central Israel, told police that two men attacked passersby at a park in the city on Thursday at around 8:36 p.m. wielding a large axe and a knife. According to some reports, one of the perpetrators has also used a firearm.
The Israeli police are searching for the suspects who were seen fleeing the scenes in a vehicle. In a statement, a police spokesperson said a helicopter was being used for the manhunt.
The Palestinian border is located just about 2 miles from the city.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz held security consultations with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi following the attack, as did Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Hamas spokesman, Abdel Latif al-Qanoa, called the attack a “heroic act that provides a severe blow to the occupation and its security system, in response to the crimes of occupation and the infiltration of settlers to the al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Several Israeli lawmakers issued statements following the terror attack.
Member of Knesset Nir Orbach, chairman of the right-wing Yamina faction, noted that Independence Day this year is ending with great heartache.
“The last two days in particular (Memorial Day and Independence Day) teach us that we must not break, and that there is no situation in which we will lower our heads in the face of terrorism – on the contrary! Long live Israel!” he said.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent condolences to the victims' families and prayed for "the peace of the wounded and strengthen the hands of security forces currently working in the field against the terrorists.”
Knesset Member Yuli Edelstein noted that “Independence Day joy and celebrations were replaced by deep sadness and great rage.”
“This unbearable situation must end. The State of Israel must destroy terrorism and cut off this madness. No more caresses and carrots – terror has to be eradicated using a heavy hand and great power,” Edelstein noted.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides called it a "heartbreaking end to Yom Ha'atzmaut in Elad.“
“I share the grief of families of those murdered in the terrorist attack and wish speedy recovery to the wounded. This must STOP!“ he said.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.