JERUSALEM -- Israeli police identified the gunman who opened fire in an Eilat hotel on Friday, killing a worker before being shot to death by a counter-terror unit, as a New York man named William Hershkowitz.Hershkowitz, 23, was from Poughkeepsie in upstate New York, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Officials said he had previously been employed at the Leonardo Club Hotel in Eilat, a southern resort town, and had recently immigrated to Israel as part of a Jewish Agency program.
According to authorities, Hershkowitz came to the hotel Friday morning, apparently intending to confront hotel sous-chef Armando Abed, who had dismissed him a few days earlier.
When a hotel security guard tried to intervene, officials said, Hershkowitz grabbed the guard's handgun and ran into the kitchen, where he fatally shot Abed, 33, who had moved to Eilat from his native Galilee village of Mi’iliya.
Witnesses told local media that the shooting took place as the hotel breakfast hall was filling with guests.
Hershkowitz was killed after a short standoff with an Israel Defense Forces counter-terror unit that was dispatched to the hotel, officials said. Police used a public address system to tell guests to stay in their rooms during the standoff.
The Jewish Agency, which aims to connect young Jewish people with Israel, is now investigating how Hershkowitz got into its Oranim program, which brings Jewish American youth to the country.
Israeli media reported that prior to the incident, program officials had decided that Hershkowitz would return to the United States on Tuesday or stay with family in Israel.
-- Batsheva Sobelman
Photo: Israeli soldiers secure the area near the site of a shooting at a hotel in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, Israel, on Friday. Credit: Eliraz Getah / Associated Press