Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel may have served as the trigger for Palestinian assailants to commit attacks against Israelis on Tuesday, defense officials said.
Police said that after a situation assessment held by the senior police brass and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, they decided to increase their manpower and patrols across the country as a result of Tuesday’s attacks.
They added that they have not found any linkage between the three attacks and that they had no prior warnings.
An American tourist was murdered and 12 people wounded Tuesday, including a pregnant woman, as a Palestinian terrorist went on a stabbing rampage on the Tel Aviv seashore before being killed by police.
The stabbings were one of the three unrelated terrorist attacks that broke the relative quiet in Israel of recent days.
Among the wounded were four American tourists, including the critically injured wife of the 29-year-old murdered man. As of press time, police hadn’t released the dead man’s identity pending notification of his family.
The American tourist who died in the attack has been identified as Taylor Force.
Force was a graduate student who was attending Vanderbilt University. He had traveled to Israel with other faculty, students, and staff from the institution, according to a statement released by the school late Tuesday.
The IDF on Tuesday night imposed a blockade on the West Bank villages of the Palestinian terrorists who carried out stabbing attacks earlier in the day in the Israeli cities of Jaffa and Petah Tikva.
Also in light of intelligence information, police forces were carrying out searches at the house of another terrorist who shot and wounded two Border Police officers in an attack in Jerusalem.
According to Palestinian reports, the terrorist who killed an American tourist and wounded many others in a stabbing spree in Jaffa was identified as Bashar Massalha, 22, from the village of Uja in the Kalkiliya area. The reports noted that Massalha had returned from a visit to Saudi Arabia's Mecca the week before.
The terrorist in the Petah Tikva stabbing that left one Israeli wounded was said to be Abed al-Rahman Radad a 17-year-old resident of the northern West Bank town of Zawiya.
The stabbing spree began at 6:15 p.m. when the attacker – described by police as a 21-year-old man from Kalkilya – slashed several people near the Jaffa Port. Fleeing northward, he stabbed two more people near Jaffa’s clock tower, and then four more near the beachfront Manta Ray restaurant before he was shot.
Video from the scene shows the attacker running north on Yehezkel Kaufman Street between vehicles stuck in traffic.
At one point, he unsuccessfully tried to stab a driver inside his car.
Several bystanders chased the terrorist, attempting to stop him.
“I was sitting down playing guitar and I heard screaming from across the street,” said Yishai who was interviewed on Channel 2. “I saw a man run at me with a knife, I ran at him with the guitar and smashed it on his head. He was so stunned and didn’t know what to do with himself and then started running away.”
Speaking at the scene of the attack, Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich said police saw no operational connection between the days attacks.
He urged the public to return to its normal routine as quickly as possible, as did Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
“We won’t have a reality where there is a cop on every corner on every street. We are in a reality in which a lone attacker can, at any moment and in any situation, surprise us and this is how this happens.
This is the reality we live in,” Huldai said.
Alsheich said police are carrying out operational assessments to try to determine if the wave of attacks on Tuesday indicates any wider phenomenon on the ground. He added that there were no further attackers on the loose in Tel Aviv that police are aware of.
Among those hurt in the Jaffa attack was a pregnant woman who was moderately- to-seriously wounded. Two of the victims were Arab men, according to police.
In an earlier attack, a terrorist from Kalkilya stabbed an Israeli man in a convenience store in Petah Tikva.
Sharon subdistrict police said that around 4:30 p.m. a 39-year-old Jewish man walked into a store on Baron Hirsch Street when a Palestinian man ran in behind him and began stabbing him repeatedly in the upper body.
Despite his wounds, the victim, together with the store owner, managed to fight off the attacker. He then picked the knife up off the floor and began to stab the attacker, who was mortally wounded and ruled dead at the scene.
Meanwhile, two Border Police officers were in critical and serious condition in Jerusalem after being shot in the head by an Arab terrorist outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate early Tuesday evening.
Shortly after 5 p.m., police said the unidentified male assailant fired a submachine gun at the officers while they were patrolling the much-travelled Salah A-Din Road, just outside the Old Continued from Page 1 City walls, approximately 300 meters from the Damascus Gate.
“Shots were fired on officers who were on a regular patrol in and around the area, and as a result we have two officers down who were seriously injured,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said at the scene of the attack.
“All of our police units responded in the area, and the terrorist was spotted with an improvised automatic weapon, chased and shot and killed at the scene,” he said.
As hundreds of curious Palestinians passively watched the chaotic scene unfold in the Arab neighborhood, dozens of heavily armed officers cordoned-off the area and searched for other possible suspects.
“At this moment, in time we’re continuing security measures for the [US Vice President Joseph] Biden visit, which is beginning this evening here in Jerusalem, and heightened security continues as long as necessary,” Rosenfeld said.
Both officers were treated at the scene by United Hatzalah of Israel paramedics before being rushed to Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem.
United Hatzalah volunteer Daniel Katzenstein said his command center received a call about the shooting at 5:10 p.m., and it was originally not clear how many victims there were.
“We immediately dispatched our ambucycle unit, which raced to the scene, and our first responders reported active gunfire when they arrived, which continued for some time,” he said.
Despite the gun fire, Katzenstein said the paramedics were able to access and treat one of the victims, who remained conscious after being shot in the head.
“We treated him until police secured the entire area, and then went with police to treat the second victim, who was more seriously injured and required CPR after losing consciousness and deteriorating at the scene,” he said.
At 7:30 p.m., Hadassah University Medical Center spokeswoman Hadar Elboim said that one of the officers, who is 48 years old, remained in critical condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
The other officer, who is 31, was conscious and in moderate-to-serious condition, she said.
On Tuesday morning, a knife-wielding Arab woman in her 50s was shot dead in Jerusalem after attempting to stab a Border Police officer on the Old City’s much-traveled Haggai Street.
Police said that at approximately 10 a.m. the unidentified woman from east Jerusalem approached a group of officers carrying out security measures in the area.
“She pulled a knife from her bag and tried to stab one of the officers, who acted immediately and responsibly upon realizing his life was in immediate danger and shot and killed the woman,” said Rosenfeld.
“She was pronounced dead at the scene, the knife was seized as evidence, and the area was immediately cordoned-off,” he added.
None of the officers were wounded, he said, and a coroner arrived minutes later to collect the corpse.
Rosenfeld said an investigation has been launched to determine who the woman is, and whether she acted alone or is part of a terrorist cell.
Intelligence services minister Israel Katz, who is a member of the security cabinet, became the first minister to call the current wave of violence a “war” Tuesday night.
“We are in the midst of a war against ISIS-style Muslim extremist terrorism,” Katz told Channel 2. “We are in an emergency situation.
There are murderers here who are motivated by hatred and we cannot allow Jews to continue to get harmed. There is an intifada of incitement. We must restore deterrence, so I must ask all the higher than thou who scold us to understand our current reality.”
Katz (Likud) said he would file his bill calling for the expulsion of terrorists’ family members Wednesday.
A Channel 1 poll revealed Tuesday night found that 73 percent of Israelis are unsatisfied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the security situation, 23% are satisfied, and the rest did not answer or said they did not know.