One day after stabbing a Jerusalem Light Rail security guard, one of the two juvenile assailants who carried out the attack told police that they intended to “kill Jews” to avenge a cousin, a terrorist who was shot dead last month after stabbing two police officers in the capital.
Surveillance footage from Tuesday’s attack in the northeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev, shows Muawiyyeh Alkam, 14, and his cousin, Ali Alkam, 11, both of Shuafat, carefully observing the guard on the train, and then drawing their knives and pouncing on him when he is distracted.
The unidentified guard, 25, who was lightly wounded, was able to shoot the 11-year-old, while passengers restrained the other child until police arrived moments later.
On Wednesday, Muawiyyeh Alkam confessed to police that the attack was revenge for the death of their cousin, Muhammad Ali Alkam, 19, who stabbed two security officers outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate on October 10.
“I wanted to kill Jews to avenge my cousin, Muhammad, who was murdered at Damascus Gate,” Alkam told police during questioning.
The October attack, captured on CCTV, shows Muhammad, also from Shuafat, stabbing one of the officers in the neck and the other in the upper body moments after they asked for his identification.
In the resulting gunfire, a third officer was wounded by a stray bullet.
Following Alkam’s confession, a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge extended his remand by one week. His 11-year-old cousin remains hospitalized at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem in satisfactory condition.
While Israeli law allows violent offenders aged 14 and over to be imprisoned in juvenile detention facilities, those aged 13 and younger enjoy relative immunity from serious prosecution.
As a result of the recent spate of knife attacks committed by juveniles under 14 – including the 13-year-old Palestinian boy who stabbed a Jewish boy in Pisgat Ze’ev last month – lawmakers submitted a bill this week to lower the minimum age under which an assailant may be prosecuted.
Noting that children are recruited to carry out attacks due to the legal loophole, MK Anat Berko (Likud) on Monday submitted the bill, which proposes that the minimum age for a prison sentence be waived in cases of minors who commit crimes with a nationalist motive.
“The recruiters take advantage of the loophole in the law, knowing that the children won’t be sent to prison,” said Berko, a professor of criminology whose expertise is in Palestinian suicide bombings.
“Even the children know that, so it is easier to convince them to go out and attack,” she added.
Meanwhile, Arab MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) condemned the proposal on Wednesday as “medieval” and “fascist.”
“This tramples rights and radically tramples lives,” she said of the bill.
“This proposal shows how the Justice Ministry is becoming fascist, and it proves it is not willing to wake up and understand...the responsibility of the state to feelings of frustration, despair and distress of Palestinian youth,” Zoabi said.