Israeli police said a white car swerved off the road towards a pedestrian and bike path before flipping over, and they shot the driver after he reached for a weapon.
The exact nature of the attack was not immediately clear but Israel’s foreign ministry referred to the incident as a “terror attack”, a term Israeli officials use for assaults by Palestinians.
An Israeli security source identified the suspect as an Israeli Arab from Kafr Qassem, near the border with the West Bank. He had no previous criminal record.
Israel’s rescue service announced a 30-year-old man was killed. He was later identified as an Italian tourist. At least five other Italian and British citizens, including a 17-year-old teenager, were injured in the car attack, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel immediately mobilised police and army reserves following the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said, amid expectations the incident was likely to amplify calls for the right-wing Netanyahu to pursue an even tougher approach towards Palestinians.
“I think this does increase the pressure on the prime minister many folds,” she stated, citing “hardliners” within the Netanyahu government “who have been preaching all along for much tougher stance when it comes with dealing with Palestinians”.
“The mayor of Tel Aviv has spoken with Israeli media and he actually said that all this is happening at this particular time because, in his words, the enemy is taking advantage of the weakness they see among Israeli society at the moment,” Abdel-Hamid added.
Netanyahu’s hard-right government is under pressure over its plans to curtail the authority of the Supreme Court and give politicians greater powers over the selection of judges, which triggered mass protests on the streets of Israel.
Earlier on Friday, two women were killed and a third seriously wounded in a shooting attack in the occupied West Bank.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack.
The escalation in tensions comes after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on successive days this week, firing stun grenades and tear gas and attacking Palestinians as they gathered for Ramadan prayers.
Late on Thursday night, Israel launched air strikes on Palestinian targets in Lebanon and Gaza after rockets were fired from the two locations.