A 30-year-old police officer was stabbed in the back by a Palestinian man Monday evening next to the West Bank Route 60 junction, outside of Jerusalem and Ramallah, in what police are deeming the third terrorist attack in the country in 24 hours.
According to police, the attack was carried out at 5 p.m. near the Geva Binyamin settlement by the unidentified assailant, who stabbed the officer once in the lower back with a 15-centimeter blade before fleeing the scene.
A second officer unsuccessfully fired several shots at the suspect, who is believed to have sought refuge in the Palestinian village of Jaba.
“We have given orders to the residents of Adam to remain in their homes for at least one-and-a-half hours as police continue to search the area for the suspect,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said of the ensuing large-scale manhunt launched shortly after the attack.
The wounded officer arrived at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem with the knife still in his back, according to hospital spokeswoman Shoham Ruvio. He immediately underwent a sensitive surgery to remove the blade without harming his organs, Ruvio said. She added that the officer was recovering in the intensive care unit Monday evening.
The IDF, border and national police are conducting an intensive search for the assailant in the area.
Settlers plan to hold a rally at the junction Tuesday at 6 p.m., to protest against the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians at a time when the number of terror incidents is rising.
Avi Ro’eh, who heads the Council of Jewish Settlements of Judea and Samaria, called on the government to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Land of Israel and to dismantle the terror organizations that are sponsored by the Palestinian Authority.
Tonight’s terror attack, like the one in Bat Yam yesterday, “is an attempt to harm Israelis.
The Palestinian Authority has not condemned or halted these attacks,” Ro’eh said.
His deputy, Yigal Delmonti, who passed by the junction seconds after the stabbing while the officer was still lying on the ground, said the council is also calling on the government not to go ahead with the scheduled December 29 release of Palestinian prisoners involved in past terror attacks.
It is the third of four releases, by which 104 prisoners are to be freed during the nine-month negotiating process.
Monday’s assault on the police officer comes approximately 24 hours after Border Police thwarted a separate knife-wielding terrorist attack at the Ma’aleh Adumim checkpoint Sunday evening, and a bomb was detonated on an empty bus in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam earlier that afternoon.
Rosenfeld said that in Sunday’s attempted knife attack, three Palestinians arrived at the checkpoint by cab and walked toward Border Police officers as one of the men brandished the weapon. Within seconds an officer immediately apprehended the man with the knife and all three were taken from the scene to the Ma’aleh Adumim Police Station.
No one was injured during the incident, police said, adding that after extensive questioning two of the men were released. The suspect wielding the knife remains in custody and will be arraigned at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Rosenfeld said.
Rosenfeld said that while all three incidents are considered terrorist attacks, they are presently believed to be unrelated, pending further investigation.
“Police are carrying out security assessments after the three attacks,” he said, adding that police are asking the public to remain at a heightened state of alert. “We ask that the public remain aware of their surroundings on buses, stores and all public spaces.”
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.