The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear, but it came amid escalating tensions following a series of deadly attacks by Palestinians.
Live footage from an Israeli ear broadcaster shows police flooding the area and training them to fire their guns on the top floor of a building. It also shows a kind of explosion.
Israel’s Magen David Adam Emergency Services said it had received reports of gunfire “in several scenes” in the center of Tel Aviv. It said it had evacuated six people to nearby Ichilov Hospital. The hospital said two were killed and eight others were being treated.
There has been at least one shooting on Diesengoff Street, a central street and a popular weekend hangout. Police urged people to avoid the area.
Dizengoff Street has been the scene of several deadly attacks over the years. Most recently, an Israeli Arab national shot dead two Israelis on the street in January 2016 and injured several others.
The popular nightlife area was packed on Thursday evening, the start of the Israeli weekend.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was monitoring the situation from the Israeli military headquarters in central Tel Aviv, his office said.
Tensions have risen since 11 people were killed in an attack by Palestinian militants just before the holy month of Ramadan, which began about a week ago. Last year, protests and clashes in the month of Ramadan ignited the 11-day Gaza war.
Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian leaders have held a series of shaky meetings in recent weeks, and Israel has taken a number of steps aimed at easing tensions, including allowing additional work for thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.
Prior to the attack, Israel said it would allow women, children and men over the age of 40 to pray in the occupied West Bank at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem on Friday, the first weekly prayer of Ramadan. Thousands were expected to attend.
The mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and is located on top of a hill which is the holiest place for Jews who refer to it as Temple Mount. The holy site has long been a flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian violence.
In the 1967 Middle East War, Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future states. The last serious and substantive peace talks broke down more than a decade ago, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is opposed to a Palestinian state.
In a move that is not internationally recognized, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and considered the entire city as its capital.
It withdrew troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but imposed a crippling blockade on the territory with neighboring Egypt when the militant group Hamas seized power two years later from rival Palestinian forces. Since then, there have been four wars between Israel and Hamas.
Krauss reports from Jerusalem. Ilan Ben Zion, an Associated Press writer in Jerusalem, contributed to this report.
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