Police thwarted a stabbing attack by a female teenaged Arab assailant near Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate Monday afternoon, marking the second time in less than 24 hours that Arab terrorists have attempted to carry out deadly violence at the location.
At approximately 3:30 p.m., police patrolling the east Jerusalem entrance to the Old City spotted the unidentified suspect behaving suspiciously and took action, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
“An officer stationed by Damascus Gate approached the female Arab teenager and asked her for identification, at which time she pulled out a knife and attempted to stab the officer,” Rosenfeld said minutes after the attack.
“Police were able to push her back and disarm her without anyone being injured. After searching her bag, a second knife was found,” he said.
Rosenfeld said the teenager was arrested and was being questioned by police to determine where she came from, and whether she acted alone or is part of an organized terror cell.
“Security assessments are being made, and heightened security will remain in effect in and around the Old City to prevent more terrorist attacks,” he said.
The incident followed another attempted attack that took place shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday night, when two Palestinian terrorists from the West Bank armed with improvised automatic weapons were shot dead in the same area after one of them fired on police personnel.
“After the terrorists arrived near Damascus Gate, a police officer made eye contact with one of the suspects who was carrying a large white bag and proceeded to pull him over to ask him for his identification and search the bag for weapons,” said Rosenfeld.
“The terrorist opened the bag and pulled out an improvised automatic weapon and at that point the officer opened fire and killed him. The second terrorist then opened fire on police from 100 meters away, and units in the area responded by opening fire and killing him.”
None of the officers were wounded during the brief exchange, he said, adding that one of the assailants also possessed a knife.
“We know that they coordinated on their own, but they are not part of a terrorist organization,” Rosenfeld said.
Noting the spike in attacks in the area, he added that extra police units have been dispatched, with an emphasis on Damascus Gate.
Meanwhile, against the backdrop of terrorism that has engulfed the capital for more than four months, newly installed Jerusalem District head Asst.- Ch. Yoram Halevy vowed during his Monday swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall to protect the city, which he called “the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
Halevy, who was born in Jerusalem, is a former commander of the YAMAM counterterrorism unit of the Border Police and the Southern District. He is replacing Asst.-Ch. Moshe “Chico” Edri, who has been transferred to the Tel Aviv District.
During the ceremony, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan noted the challenges of policing one of the most contested and volatile cities in the world.
“There are no police around the world who face the challenges facing the Jerusalem District and that deals with these challenges as successfully,” he said.