Another wave of terrorism on Tuesday rattled a country still reeling from four stabbing attacks the previous day.
Two Jewish men were stabbed to death, and three others were seriously wounded, in a gun and knife attack on an Egged bus in the capital’s southeastern Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, located next to the Arab Jebl Mukaber neighborhood, on Tuesday morning.
One of the men was named as Haviv Haim, 78. The name of the other victim was not available by press time.
Almost immediately after the attack in Armon Hanatziv, another terrorist struck in the haredi neighborhood of Geula. Security camera footage showed the assailant, Ala Abu Jamal, 33, a resident of Jebl Mukaber in east Jerusalem and a driver for the Bezeq telecommunications company, ram his company car into a group of several people waiting at a bus stop.
An elderly woman shuffled away as fast as possible, as Abu Jamal jumped from his car wielding a meat cleaver and began attacking the wounded with the cleaver.
A civilian security guard who was nearby ran toward the terrorist and shot him in the leg, bringing him down.
However, Abu Jamal got to his feet several more times trying to attack the guard until passersby overcame him and security forces arrived.
Rabbi Yishayahu Krishevsky, 59, was killed by wounds suffered by the car ramming and Abu Jamal’s cleaver. Two other people were seriously wounded.
The Shin Bet said Abu Jamal is the uncle of Adi and Asan Abu Jamal, who carried out the gun and ax attack on Jewish worshipers in a Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem in November 2014.
After last year’s attack, Ala Abu Jamal made radical statements, and made online pledges of support for Islamic State, the Shin Bet said. He was a resident of east Jerusalem and In a statement to the public, Bezeq expressed its shock upon hearing of the attack.
“There were no early signs and there was no observed change in the employee’s behavior that could have indicated his involvement in criminal and terrorist activities,” they said.
In Armon Hanatziv, dozens of police officers cordoned off the scene soon after the attack, as Magen David Adom paramedics and ZAKA rescue and recovery personnel rushed the wounded to the hospital and cleaned copious amounts of blood from the No. 78 bus, whose shattered windows had several bullet holes.
Trails of blood could be seen inside and outside the vehicle, as a police forensics team took samples, and hundreds of anxious locals gathered to watch the chaotic scene.
According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, shortly after 10 a.m. the two assailants stopped the bus at the intersection of Olei Hagardom and Moshe Barazim streets, near Jebl Mukaber.
“One of the terrorists shot at passengers from the outside, while his accomplice entered the bus and stabbed five passengers, killing one,” said Rosenfeld several meters from the badly damaged vehicle.
“Our police units that arrived at the scene shot and killed one of the terrorists. The second terrorist was apprehended, and the four victims were taken to the hospital, where another victim later died.”
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) identified one of the terrorists as Baha Alian, 23, from Jebl Mukaber, who is affiliated with Fatah and has a history of extremist statements.
Alian was shot and killed in the attack.
The second terrorist, who has not been named, was described by the Shin Bet as a Hamas operative from Jebl Mukaber, who served time in Israeli prison in 2013 to 2014 due to Hamas-related activities.
He is being questioned by security forces.
Golan Cohen, a middle-aged resident of Armon Hanatziv, said he used his car to block the bus when he saw the attack unfold.
“I noticed that something was wrong, because the bus was standing in the middle of the crosswalk at the junction, and I heard someone shouting something in Arabic,” he said.
“I drove my car to the bus and saw two terrorists, one stabbing people and the other sitting in the driver’s seat, and assumed the one in the driver’s seat was trying to abduct the passengers, so I blocked it with my car.”
Cohen said the terrorist in the driver’s seat then pulled out his gun and pointed it at him.
“When he aimed the gun at me, I decided to move away, and that’s when the police arrived,” he said.
Rosenfeld said more than 4,500 police officers have been deployed to canvass the capital in an effort to prevent attacks, but that the random and independent nature of the assailants presents a major challenge.
“These are sporadic attacks that are carried out by lone-wolf fanatics – people who get up in the morning and know they are never going to come home,” he said. “These people are sick, and these people have to be stopped. Our police units are trying to find potential terrorists, as well as capture them, or kill them at the scene.”
Heightened security will continue throughout the city “until the streets of Jerusalem are safe,” he said.
Meanwhile, amid a chorus of calls demanding the closing-off of Arab neighborhoods in the capital and the erection of police checkpoints, acting police commissioner Asst.-Ch. Benzi Sau said he opposed such “collective punishment.”
“There is no reason for collective punishment,” he said at an emergency security cabinet meeting later on Tuesday. “We don’t want to close those areas off with checkpoints and limit the freedom of movement of east Jerusalem’s Arabs.”
Instead, to better fight the terrorism, Sau said a joint intelligence unit has been established between the police and the Shin Bet, and more than 2,000 officers have been called in as reinforcements.
Still, he cautioned that concentrating the majority of security personnel in Jerusalem may leave other communities in danger.
“This carries risks,” Sau said. “It affects the Israel Police’s level of service in other cities. By the end of the week, we’ll have called up 16 reserve companies of Border Police in Jerusalem alone.”
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel issued a strongly worded statement on Tuesday condemning forced closures.
“Restricting the movement of 300,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem would be overwhelming and damaging to individual rights,” the ACRI said.
“There is no doubt that dealing with the difficult security situation in recent days requires security forces to use different measures that might limit the freedoms of the individual, but collective punishment against an entire population is not legitimate under any circumstances.”
Mayor Nir Barkat, who was at the scene of the bus attack, warned that the crisis Jerusalem is facing will soon spread to cities around the globe.
“The world has to understand that terrorism is not just a Jerusalem problem,” he said. “The problems we’re having here are international problems, and we’re just at the forefront of it.”
Barkat blamed Palestinian incitement for the wave of attacks.
“You have to see how incitement causes people to practically commit suicide,” he said. “Children are sent to hurt innocent policemen and innocent people, and they don’t return home, because once they take a knife and try to kill people, they will be killed or ‘neutralized.’” Barkat emphasized that he will continue work closely with police to fight terrorism until “the killing stops.”
“If you carry a knife and you want to kill, you will be killed before you hurt people,” he said. “We will not deter, we will continue living our lives, and we will fight terrorism and win.”
MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), who arrived at the scene shortly after the attack, said she was well aware of chronic violence and intimidation carried out by Arabs from Jebel Mukaber.
“We know that the people of the village of Jebl Mukaber have been giving residents of Armon Hanatziv a very hard time for a very long time, and we’ve done intensive work on this,” she said.
Noting that Alexander Levlovitz, 64, who was killed nearby on Rosh Hashana when his car was stoned, was a resident of Armon Hanatziv, Azaria said far more government and police attention must be paid to the neighborhood’s security needs.
“We need more focus here because time after time, after time, we’ve had terrorist attacks,” she continued. “All the time this has been going on, and we need to make sure that it ends.”
Azaria added that she raised the issue of violence from Jebl Mukaber during an emergency meeting at the Knesset on Monday, following four terrorist attacks in the capital.
Earlier Tuesday morning, terrorists carried out two stabbing attacks in Ra’anana, leaving several people wounded in the span of a couple hours on the city’s main thoroughfare.
The first attack happened around 8:50 a.m., when an Arab stabbed a 32-year-old man at a bus stop on Ahuza Street, outside a shopping center in the middle of town. The man was moderately wounded in the stomach and neck, but managed to fight off his attacker. Bystanders were able to subdue the man until police arrived.
One of the bystanders – a real estate agent with an office on Ahuza Street – reportedly began attacking the terrorist with an umbrella that he had in his office. That followed an incident in Jerusalem when a passerby wielding nunchuks subdued an attacker, and a man in Jerusalem on Tuesday who reportedly attacked a terrorist using a selfie stick.
Dep.-Ch. Kobi Shabtai, commander of the Sharon subdistrict, said Tuesday morning that police officers who arrived at the scene of the Ra’anana attack found a 32-year-old local man lightly wounded and a terrorist from east Jerusalem in his 20s.
The quiet didn’t last long, and at 10:40 a.m. police received a report of a stabbing outside Beit Loewinstein hospital further down Ahuza Street, where a 28-year-old man from east Jerusalem stabbed four people sitting at a café, wounding one seriously and three lightly.
The attacker then fled down Ahuza Street as a group of bystanders gave chase. A motorist hit the terrorist with his car, and then he and another motorist grabbed him and subdued him until police arrived.
The Shin Bet said the first stabbing attack in Ra’anana was carried out by a 22-year-old resident of the capital’s northeastern Kafr Akab neighborhood.
He has no known organizational affiliation.
The second stabbing attack was carried out by a 28-year-old resident of Kafr Akab, who has been in custody in the past due to criminal offenses, but had no history of security offenses.
“The investigation into the terrorist attacks continues,” the Shin Bet said.
The incidents were a departure of sorts for Ra’anana, a quiet, well-to-do suburb north of Tel Aviv that is popular with Anglo immigrants.
Police said one of the two attackers worked in the area of the attack, and are still trying to determine how and why the other attacker arrived in Ra’anana on Tuesday. Police said they do not believe that the two were connected or acted together.
Meanwhile, Northern District police said late Tuesday afternoon that they had thwarted an attempted stabbing attack, after they arrested two men from an Israeli village near Migdal Ha’emek who confessed to planning to carry out an attack.
The Northern District said that officers were called to a gas station in Migdal Ha’emek after an employee reported seeing two suspicious men.
After a short search they said they located two teenage boys, aged 16 and 17, who had discarded a kitchen knife and a makeshift blade while officers were chasing them.
The two teens confessed to plotting a stabbing attack, but detectives have yet to determine where or when it was to take place.
The Jerusalem Municipality has established an emergency call center to provide residents with timely information, as well as psychological support.
The center is operational and can be reached at *9215, the municipality said.