A man suffered fatal gunshot injuries Friday after a US national opened fire inside the lobby of Leonardo Club Hotel in Eilat. The gunman, who was fired from his job on Thursday, is believed to have arrived at the hotel to avenge his dismissal, according to the police.
The victim has been identified as 33-year-old Armando Abed, from Mi’ilya, a local council in the western Galilee; who was employed at the hotel as a sous-chef. The identity of the shooter has yet to be released.
The gunman was identified as William Hershkowitz, 24, a Jewish man from New York City, who arrived in Israel as part of the “Oranim” Israeli-American work exchange project. The police confirmed that the gunman was fired from his job on Thursday.
The police stressed that the circumstances surrounding the incident are criminal, and that no national security violations were at play.
Aside from the two casualties, several others have suffered shock and were taken to the Yoseftal Medical Center in the southern resort city.
Large police forces and emergency services arrived at the scene as soon as the incident was reported to the police emergency line.
Available details suggest that the shooter had an altercation with another hotel employee. A hotel security guard tried to intervene, at which point the man grabbed his weapon and opened fire.
The police Counterterrorism Unit was given command of the situation and once it was made clear that the shooter had barricaded himself in the hotel, special forces stormed the premises. The shooter was killed during the operation.
Initial reports suggesting he had taken hostages were quickly proven false.
Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, has ordered the formation of a commission of inquiry to investigate the shooter’s admission process into its Oranim program.
According to the project’s website, the program is affiliated with “Masa Israel Journey” – a joint project of the government, the Jewish Agency, the Jewish Federations of North America and the United Israel Appeal (Keren Hayesod).
Hotel guests were instructed to stay inside their rooms while the event was in progress, for their own safety.
Alon Raz, a guest at the hotel, told Ynet Radio that “As far as we know, the shooter was a man who was fired from the hotel.
“Hotel staff told us that he walked into the dining room and started shooting… Everyone began screaming and running outside and up to the room,” he recounted.
The police are questioning witnesses.
Eilat Police Spokesman Chief Inspector Lior Ben-Simon told Ynet that, “Eilat’s security forces are on high alert because of the holiday. The response time to the incident was quick.”
Source: Ynet News