The IDF, guided by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), raided three homes in Samaria on Thursday belonging to the family of the terrorist who stabbed 12 people on a Tel Aviv bus the previous day.
Nine other passengers were treated for shock.
The man who attacked the people on the No. 40 Dan bus on Wednesday morning, Hamza Muhammad Hassan Matruch, 23, from Tulkarm, is in custody. Prisons Services officers, who happened to be in a vehicle behind the bus when Matruch attacked, shot him in the leg and arrested him.
Two of the homes security personnel searched were in Tulkarm, and the third was near Ramallah.
During initial questioning, Matruch said he had purchased a large knife in Tulkarm, crossed the Green Line illegally, and carried out the stabbing attack.
He said he was motived by last summer’s conflict in the Gaza Strip, unrest on the Temple Mount, and watching extremist Islamist content that glorified “the reaching of heaven,” the Shin Bet said.
Matruch was taken to the hospital for treatment after his arrest. A remand hearing took place in his absence at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s attack near the Ma’ariv junction began with Matruch stabbing bus driver Herzl Biton, 62, repeatedly in the upper body. The bus began swerving in its lane as Biton, who had been on the job for more than two decades, fought with the terrorist.
The swerving bus caught the attention of officers from the Prisons Service’s Nahshon Unit, who were driving behind the bus on their way to the Tel Aviv courthouse to pick up detainees. When the officers saw the bus come to a stop and passengers fleeing, they chased after the terrorist as he fled through parking lots and alleyways toward Hamasger Street.
One of the Prisons Service officers shot the attacker in the leg, and they placed him under arrest.
Three of the stabbing victims are still at Ichilov Hospital – three adults including Biton – though their condition has improved from serious to moderate, Avi Sasson, the acting spokesman for Ichilov Hospital at Sourasky Medical Center, said on Thursday afternoon.
All three are conscious and breathing unassisted, Sasson said.
They will probably remain in the hospital at least another week and may need physical rehabilitation and mental counseling after their release, he added.
There are also three victims still at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, two moderately wounded and one lightly wounded.
Moments after the attack Biton, who suffered abdominal and internal injuries, called a colleague from the Dan Bus Cooperative to tell him he feared for his life and if he died, to take care of his children.
Biton underwent surgery overnight Wednesday.
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