American kills chef at Israel hotel05/10/2012 - 18:18:35
An American man who was in Israel for a Jewish work and study programme shot a chef dead at a Red Sea hotel and then killed himself in a shoot-out with Israeli commandos, police said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld identified the suspect as William Hershkovitz, 23, from Poughkeepsie, New York, and said his family in the United States had been notified.
The motive for the attack in the resort city of Eilat was still under investigation, police said. But the head of the Oranim work and study programme said it happened days after Hershkovitz lost his job at the Leonardo Club Hotel.
The attacker entered the hotel, snatched a gun from a hotel security guard and fired several shots, killing the chef, Mr Rosenfeld said.
Police and army anti-terror units then surrounded the building and told guests to stay in their rooms. The gunman fired at special forces as they entered the hotel, prompting them to return fire and kill him, Mr Rosenfeld said.
Meanwhile, family members mourned the death of the 33-year-old chef, Abed Armando, in an Arab village in northern Israel. They told Channel 2 TV that he was in Eilat because he wanted to work as a chef.
Hershkovitz arrived in Israel about two months ago to participate in the Oranim programme, which combines Hebrew study, travel and work at the hotel with a university course on hotel management.
Ofer Gutman, head of the Oranim programme, which is sponsored partially by the Israeli government, said it was a mutual decision to remove Hershkovitz from his job at the hotel, and the programme was planning to reassign him to another workplace.
Mr Gutman did not elaborate on the reasons behind the termination but said participants sometimes transfer to other workplaces based on their personal preferences.
Speaking in a telephone interview before boarding a flight to Eilat, he described Hershkovitz as “a normal guy” and said “there was nothing that indicated what would happen in the end”.
Oranim programme participant Stas Abramovich, 27, said a number of people had complained about Hershkovitz to the programme co-ordinator.
“There was something strange in his smile, but I never saw him as aggressive,” Mr Abramovich said.
Another participant who did not want to be named said Hershkovitz had issued death threats to other members, but programme co-ordinators ignored repeated complaints.
“He would talk to himself, share dreams that he’d had about random killings and mutilations that he did, he would have statements against Arabs or Nazis or terrorist-type movements,” the participant added.
Michal Bouaron, a guest at the hotel, told Channel 2 that police ordered guests to stay in their rooms during the incident. Later, police announced that it was safe for guests to leave their rooms.
“There was a lot of tension,” Mr Bouaron said. “Life goes on… We won’t let this ruin our day and our vacation.”
The hotel was fully booked, Israeli media reported, because of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, when many Israelis take vacations. Eilat, with attractive Red Sea beaches and hot, dry weather, is a favourite getaway spot.
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