(photo credit:David Leff, "Ichud Hatzala")
A Palestinian laborer stabbed and wounded four Israelis Monday in the West Bank settlement of Modi'in Illit before he was shot and wounded by a volunteer medic, police and rescue officials said.
The morning attack in the haredi community, located just over the Green Line adjacent to Modi'in, left one victim seriously wounded, and three others lightly hurt.
The Palestinian assailant, who had worked in the settlement for over a decade, was shot and seriously wounded by Kobi Rosenstein, a settlement security official who volunteers with Magen David Adom, the rescue service said.
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the stabbing was a "spontaneous" act in response to Israel's three-day aerial offensive against Hamas targets in Gaza. Initial reports of a second attack in the community an hour after the first were unfounded, he added.
The perpetrator began his attack in a private home on Rehov Yehuda Hanassi, where he was carrying out renovations.
"I was upstairs and the Arab laborer was downstairs with my wife," said resident Avraham Soffer. "He asked my wife what to do, and suddenly stabbed her."
Hearing his wife's cries, Soffer ran downstairs, only to be stabbed as well. Both sustained light wounds.
The assailant then stabbed and seriously wounded his Israeli employer, Arye Deutsch, who was overseeing the work at the Soffers' home, before fleeing. He then stabbed a fourth person at a second location.
Finally, he tried to hitch a ride out of the settlement, said Rosenstein, who was riding in the vehicle the assailant stopped. Rosenstein, 30, said the man appeared very agitated and was sweating profusely when he got in.
"I knew he was connected to the stabbing but didn't know that he was the attacker," Rosenstein recounted.
After the driver stopped the vehicle, Rosenstein got out of the car and approached the Arab laborer, who then pulled out a knife and started chasing him. Rosenstein shot the man once in the hand, and when he did not stop, twice more, whereupon the attacker slumped to the ground, he said.
Deutsch - also a Magen David Adom volunteer - was immediately recognized by paramedics who arrived on the scene of the first stabbing.
"He was lying on his stomach, but it didn't take me long to identify Arye, as we did many ambulance shifts together," said paramedic Ismail Yusuf.
"It was very painful to see his condition. He didn't react and didn't understand what was happening. Medics know that someday you might treat somebody you know, but when it happens, it's very hard to digest," Yusuf added.
Tzvika Deutsch, Arye's brother and the contractor who had employed the attacker, said the man had worked in the community for over 10 years and had been very friendly with Israelis.
"This is something completely crazy," Tzvika said. "I have known the man for over three years and he was everyone's friend."
Tzvika said the attacker, an observant Muslim, had spoken out forcefully against Israel's attacks against Hamas infrastructure in Gaza while talking with Arye a day earlier.
He had said that Israel had "locked up" Gaza, but otherwise did not give any indication of the attack to come.
"We didn't see the fire in his eyes," Tzvika said.
The stabbing victims, as well as the attacker, were rushed to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.
Residents of the community had one question on their minds Monday afternoon.
"Why are we employing Arabs who come to kill us? That's the question," said one mother of four young children, who would only give her first name as Hava.
"This is our life," she said.
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