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Two Israeli police killed in attack claimed by Islamic State group

Israeli security forces gather at the site of an attack that left two Israeli police dead in the northern city of Hadera
— Hadera (Israel) (AFP)

Two police officers were shot dead in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group in the northern Israeli city of Hadera late Sunday as top US and Arab diplomats visited the Jewish state for an unprecedented regional meeting, authorities said.

Police said the two gunmen -- Israeli Arabs identified by Israeli intelligence as local IS operatives -- were killed by counterterrorism officers who happened to be nearby.

"Two members of the Jewish (state's) police force were killed and others were injured in an immersive commando attack," IS said in a rare claim of an attack inside Israel.

Emergency medical responders said "two Israelis" were killed in the attack -- a man and a woman -- with four other people taken to hospital and two more treated at the scene.

Police said "two terrorists arrived at Herbert Samuel Street in Hadera, and began shooting at a police force there," resulting in two deaths.

Members of "an Israeli counterterrorism force happened to be in a restaurant nearby and they ran out and neutralised the terrorists," police said in a statement.

Dudu Boani, the police deputy commander for the region, told reporters the two victims of the attack were police officers. He said the assailants were shot dead.

A government security official said the two assailants were IS operatives from Umm El Fahm, an Arab Israeli city.

Residents of the city, which is located near Hadera, said police had deployed heavily.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz's office said he was conducting a situation assessment with military, police and intelligence chiefs, while Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had arrived in Hadera and been briefed by police on the attack, his office said.

The army said in a statement that it was deploying additional forces in and around the occupied West Bank.

- 'Heinous' attack -

Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, praised the attack, calling it a "heroic operation" and a "natural and legitimate response" to Israel's "crimes against our people".

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) welcomes Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita upon his arrival for a meeting in the southern Negev desert

Islamic Jihad, another Gaza-based militant Palestinian movement, called the attack "an eloquent message from our people against attempts to break our will".

On Tuesday, a man wielding a knife stabbed several people and ran over another in southern Israel, killing four, in one of the deadliest attacks in the country in recent years.

Authorities identified the attacker as an Israeli Arab who had previously been convicted for supporting IS.

As Sunday's attack took place, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was hosting his counterparts from three Arab states that recently normalised ties with Israel, alongside Egypt's top diplomat and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at a resort in southern Israel, in a gathering that Israel called "historic".

"I briefed the participants of the Negev Summit on the details of the Hadera attack," Lapid said in a statement.

"All the foreign ministers condemned the attack, sent their condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded."

"Tonight's heinous terror attack is an attempt by violent extremists to terrorise and to damage the fabric of life here," Lapid said.

"Israel will uncompromisingly fight terrorism, and we will resolutely stand together with our allies against anyone who tries to harm us."

An Israeli official told AFP that the attack had not prevented the gathering from taking place.

The ministers were dining together Sunday night, and on Monday were due to hold a series of meetings.

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