A US national opened fire at a hotel in the southern Israeli resort town of Eilat on the Red Sea yesterday, killing a hotel employee, before being shot dead by the security forces, Israeli police said.
The shooting, which took place in the Leonardo Club hotel, occurred as the southern beach resort was packed with tourists and Israelis enjoying the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles.
“An American tourist opened fire in the lobby of the Leonardo Club hotel in Eilat, killing one person,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Police later said the man had been working as a trainee sous-chef at the hotel and had recently been dismissed.
Early yesterday, he entered the hotel lobby and snatched a gun from one of the security guards.
“The shooter barricaded himself into the kitchen and was surrounded by police forces, including special units, who asked him to turn himself in,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
“He opened fire during the negotiations with police. They fired back and killed him,” she said.
Two other tourists were taken to hospital suffering from shock.
“The man was a trainee sous-chef in the kitchen who had an argument with the person in charge of him after being fired,” Samri said, describing the shooting as a purely criminal incident.
The identity of the shooter was not immediately clear and police could not immediately say whether he also held Israeli nationality.
Unconfirmed reports in the Israeli media said the gunman, who was believed to be in his 20s, had arrived in Israel as part of an US-Israeli exchange program.
“From what we understood from the hotel staff, one of the workers who had been dismissed from the hotel entered the dining room and started firing everywhere,” a hotel guest called Alon Raz told the radio station of the Ynet news Web site.