A Palestinian terrorist armed with a knife murdered two Israelis and moderately wounded a third during a rampage in a southern Tel Aviv office building on Thursday afternoon.
The victims were named as Aviram Reuven, 51, from Ramle, and Aharon Yisayev, 32, from Holon.
The attack began at around 2 p.m., when 36-year-old Raed Khalil bin Mahmoud, the father of five and resident of Dura in the West Bank southwest of Hebron, walked to the second floor of the Panorama building on Ben-Zvi Street and began stabbing worshipers at an afternoon minha service being held inside a Judaica store.
One worshiper, Shimon Vaknin, said that moments after the prayer service began, he saw a man covered in blood enter the store and fall onto a group of people praying. Mahmoud then tried to continue the assault inside the store, but was pushed back by worshipers, who held the doors closed as he tried to force his way back in, Vaknin said.
Outside the store he continued his attack, stabbing another Israeli man to death before fleeing to a lower floor. On the next level he stabbed another man and was chased into a shoe warehouse, where civilians overpowered him and held him until police arrived, according to witnesses.
The Panorama is a doughnut-shaped building of open floors with a ramp that climbs to the top. The building is open to the street and easily entered without a security check.
Photo by: Ben Hartman
Sigal Pinchas, an employee of a small publishing house across from the Judaica store, also saw the attack unfold, and fought back tears as she described her close brush with death and the brutality she had just witnessed only meters away.
“I was walking to my car, which was parked right outside the [Judaica] store, when I realized I forgot my keys and came back to the office. As I was walking in, I heard shouting and ran in and locked the door,” she said.
Pinchas then described peeking through the blinds as the terrorist stabbed a young man repeatedly in the chest, as she called police.
“I was supposed to be right there,” she said, shaking her head and walking back inside the office.
Another shocked witness to tragedy was Israel Bachar, who works at a store adjacent to the site of the attack. Bachar said he heard shouting and came outside to see the assailant sitting on top of a victim and stabbing him repeatedly in the chest. Bachar said he ran back inside his store and grabbed a bar, throwing it at the attacker, who then got on his feet and began chasing Bachar, who hid in his store. Bachar said he then went out and tried in vain to help the victim.
“I tried to help him, but he died in my hands. I was holding him there and he just died before help could come,” he said.
One of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene while two other victims were taken by Magen David Adom paramedics to Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, where the critically wounded man later died.
One killed, two wounded in suspected terror stabbing in south Tel Aviv
Both of the victims killed were stabbed repeatedly in the upper body, and according to a paramedic who spoke to The Jerusalem Post at the scene Thursday, one of the two suffered six stab wounds directly to his heart.
Mahmoud worked legally at a restaurant near the scene of the attack, had a permit to be in Israel, and had no history of security offenses. Tel Aviv police said Thursday they still had not determined whether he had come from work before the attack or had taken the knife from the restaurant’s kitchen, saying the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) is investigating the matter.
A few blocks west of the scene of Thursday’s attack, diners at a Bukharan restaurant on Ben-Zvi Street said they were eating lunch and having drinks not long after the stabbings when police with guns drawn charged into the eatery and pulled out four Arab kitchen employees in handcuffs. One of the diners said the men were put into a police vehicle and taken from the scene. Employees could not say whether or not the attacker worked for them.
In an unrelated development on Thursday morning, three women carrying knives were arrested by IDF soldiers, as the three approached the fence of a military post in the West Bank, the IDF Spokesman said.
The three women were spotted next to the fence and were stopped by officers. During a search, they were found to be carrying knives and were taken into custody. No shots were fired and no one was injured in the incident, the IDF Spokesman said.
Also on Thursday, the IDF carried out a series of raids in the West Bank in collaboration with the Border Police, during which they arrested 18 wanted men – 17 of them for rioting and throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli civilians.
The raids were focused on the Dehaishe refugee camp outside Bethlehem and targeted a number of members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the IDF said.
Also Thursday, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police said that they had arrested a group of two adults and 10 minors from the village of Bir a-Sika who they said were involved in two incidents in which rocks and firebombs were thrown at motorists on Route 6. No one was injured in the incidents
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