A Palestinian terrorist murdered two Jewish men and wounded a mother and son in the Old City of Jerusalem in a Saturday stabbing and shooting spree, before he was shot dead by police.
The victims were Rabbi Nehemia Lavie, 41, an Old City resident who worked at the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, near the place he was killed, and Aharon Benita from Beitar Illit.
The toddler’s mother, 22, was in critical condition.
The incident began around 7:30 p.m., when the knife-wielding Arab attacked the couple and their toddler son, as well as Lavie, as they walked past Lion’s Gate, en route to the Western Wall, police said.
A fifth male victim, in his 20s, was lightly wounded.
The terrorist then took a pistol from one of his victims and fired wildly into a crowd of tourists, before Border Police officers on patrol some 50 meters away killed him.
The toddler’s father was rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where he died.
“The father died while in intensive care, and his two-year-old boy is in the operating room right now and is in stable condition with a leg injury,” Shaare Zedek spokeswoman Shoham Ruvio said shortly after 9 p.m.
The mother was rushed to Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem in critical condition, where she was placed on a ventilator and was undergoing surgery, hospital spokeswoman Hadar Elboim said.
“She was stabbed in the back and chest and all over, and is on a breathing machine,” Elboim said. “Another man who is 35 died while being treated at our Mount Scopus hospital.”
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, “Police have cordoned off the area and are searching for a possible accomplice.”
Police helicopters circled above the Old City, as officers on the ground searched for any accomplices; no arrests were made.
The attack comes amid heightened tension in the capital, and less than 48 hours after terrorists murdered Naama and Eitam Henkin as they drove in Samaria.
Hamas lauded Saturday’s Old City killer as a “hero.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to act decisively against Arab incitement.
“Ruthless and cruel terrorism aimed at innocent civilians that attempts to disrupt our lives and hurt us is a direct result of incitement by the Palestinian Authority, and routine incitement in
mosques,” said Barkat.
“I call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to increase sanctions and act decisively against those who incite and encourage terrorism.”
Barkat went on to the praise police for acting quickly, while asking the capital’s citizens not to allow terrorism to make them live in fear.
“I commend the security forces who acted immediately and neutralized the terrorist, stopping the murderous killing spree,” he said. “We will continue to carry on with routine, while maintaining maximal levels of vigilance as we fight an uncompromising war on terrorism.”
Barkat continued, “I stand together with Jerusalem’s residents and with our nation in strength and determination in our war against terrorism. We embrace the families of the victims and send our deepest condolences during these painfully difficult times.”
On Friday, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the security cabinet, said the government is not doing enough to fight terrorism.
“It’s true that this is a nationalist, right-wing, homogeneous government, but there are some problems. For example, the commanders in the field don’t have enough backing... The soldiers have to know that they’re there to fight and protect the citizens,’ she told Channel 2 News.
Shaked added that Netanyahu believes in two states, which her party, Bayit Yehudi, considers a mistake, and that annexation of Area C of Judea and Samaria must be on the table.
“We need to do things that will hurt [the Palestinians], so they understand [terrorism] doesn’t pay,” she added, saying that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is directly responsible for the current wave of terrorism.
On Saturday night, Economy Minister Arye Deri, the chairman of Shas, called to support the IDF and security forces in their fight against terrorism and said ministers should not criticize Netanyahu while he abroad, because such behavior is “outrageous and intolerable.”
Deri added that Arab MKs are fanning the flames and cynically using the situation to agitate.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel of Bayit Yehudi said that the wave of terrorism against “Jews who are only guilty of being Jewish” is growing.
“We saw in recent weeks how violence in the streets of Jerusalem is increasing and the writing was on the wall. This was the direct result of continued incitement by the Palestinian Authority... I call on the prime minister to act with an iron fist against terrorism, and with his other hand, provide an appropriate Zionist response and stop the settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria,” Ariel said.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said that “Netanyahu lost control over the security of Israeli citizens and Jerusalem. His government is showing weakness and a total failure in security and the national mission of protecting Jerusalem’s security.”
Security does not come from speeches, Herzog said.
“This government doesn’t have a plan to fight terrorism, and that’s clear to all Israeli citizens,” he continued. “The despicable terrorists must be punished to the full extent of the law, but the
government must have a policy and take action, not just talk and declarations and weak slogans.”
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman wrote on Facebook: “This is what losing control and deterrence looks like.”
“MK Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Union) said the deteriorating security situation is beginning to look like an intifada.
“Security forces must act forcefully to stop the wave of terrorism, but we must act forcefully and with good judgment to make sure it doesn’t cause an escalation,” he added.
Only a diplomatic initiative can provide a long-term solution, Ben-Reuven said.