Separate attacks within a matter of hours in Tel Aviv and the West Bank left a soldier and a civilian woman dead and several other victims badly wounded.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for both attacks. Police and security services went on high alert for copycat attacks across the country.
The “Knife Intifada” has begun, Palestinians tweeted and re-tweeted.
The first attack took place outside the entrance to the Hagana train station in south Tel Aviv midday. A man pulled out a long kitchen knife and stabbed air force Sgt. Almog Shiloni, 20, from Modi’in repeatedly in the upper body and tried to steal his rifle before fleeing.
Civilians began fighting with the attacker but were unable to stop him. One of those passersby, a man named Gilad Goldman, told reporters he punched the terrorist, forcing him to drop his knife on the pavement. A friend of Goldman’s, Kobi Langelbem, described giving first aid to the soldier to stop the bleeding, and calling for help from paramedics.
Shiloni died at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in the evening.
A few hours later, at a bus stop near the entrance to Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion, Dalya Lamkus, a 26-year-old woman from Tekoa, was stabbed to death and three others were badly wounded when a Palestinian drove into the bus stop, got out of his car and began stabbing people at random.
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Earlier, after the stabbing in Tel Aviv, the attacker made his way down Hagana Street and turned left on Levanda Street.
Along the way a series of civilians tried to stop him, but he managed to slip away.
By this time emergency dispatchers had fielded a number of calls from people reporting the stabbing, and members of the police’s Special Patrol Unit (Yasam) and the Border Police – both of which have officers stationed a few blocks away at Levinsky Park, near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station – began rushing to the scene.
One of those officers, Sgt.- Maj. Ya’acov Shamiya, the commander of the Special Patrol Unit detachment at the Sharett station, said he arrived with Border Police officers David Cohen and Itai Shetrit.
Civilians pointed toward a building on Levanda Street, and after entering the officers saw blood stains on the first-floor stairwell and began racing up the stairs. Shamiya said. When they got to the top of the building they found the suspect, later named by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) as Noor Aladin Khaled Saed Abu Hashiya, 18, from Askar, near Nablus.
The suspect did not resist arrest, nor did he shout or profess anything, or have any weapons in his possession, Shamiya said.
No civilians tried to reach the suspect and attack him, and within moments of officers securing the scene, a large contingent of police from across the district cordoned off the area, Shetrit said.
The suspect was driven by ambulance to Ichilov Hospital at Sourasky Medical Center for treatment, as bystanders shouted obscenities and chanted “Death to terrorists,” with a few singing “Death to the Arabs” in the moments after the ambulance passed.
Tel Aviv police head Asst.- Ch. Bentzi Sau, who was at the scene along with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, said officers were already interviewing witnesses and trying to get a clearer picture of what happened and whether there were any accomplices of the suspect loose in the city.
For the past few days, police have been on the second- highest alert level and will remain so for the time being, Sau said. He called on the public to exercise caution and not to hesitate to contact police if they see anything suspicious.
Aharonovitch was jeered by passersby who called on him to resign, shouting about what they said was a lack of safety on the streets.
Later, in Alon Shvut, Hanan Meir, a Magen David Adom paramedic, told The Jerusalem Post: “When we arrived, I saw two people lying the ground near the bus stop – the same place where three teenagers were kidnapped [by Hamas members in June this year].
One person [Lamkus] was unconscious, and another man was in light-to-moderate condition.
Our people, together with the army, began treating the unconscious woman. We tried to resuscitate her, and placed her in the ambulance. We were forced to declare her dead as she was in the ambulance on the scene.”
The IDF evacuated one wounded person to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, and one to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Paramedics treated another person on the scene who suffered shock. One victim sustained cuts to his jaw, and a second sustained a stab wound to the stomach.
The incident began around 5 p.m., when a Palestinian man drove his car into the bus stop in what is believed to have been a “ramming attack.” He then got out of his car and began stabbing people, police said.
A surveillance camera video shows the terrorist getting out of the car and, for around two minutes, standing in the middle of the street, at one point engaging in a fistfight with someone, before he was shot and apprehended.
He is being treated at Hadassah University Medical Center, Ein Kerem, along with at least one victim of the attack.
There was speculation that Lamkus was almost the victim of a stabbing at the same bus stop years ago, but was not badly harmed, after an online comment written in her name in 2006 describing the attack was found Monday.
Her funeral will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning in Tekoa.
The suspect in the West Bank stabbing is a 30-year-old Hebron resident named Maher Hamdi Hashalmon, a member of Islamic Jihad, who was imprisoned in Israel in the years 2000 to 2005 for throwing a Molotov cocktail at an IDF patrol, the Shin Bet said.
His family tweeted: “He’s still alive and receiving medical treatment in J’lem.”
Islamic Jihad said in a statement that it “applauds the two heroic operations and welcomes the escalation of our people’s intifada against the occupation.
“We emphasize that this is the response of the Palestinian people to the crimes of the occupation army against Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque,” the organization said. “The operations are also in response to the occupation’s crimes in the town of Kafr Kana [in the Galilee].”
The organization said that the “battle for the Aksa Mosque and Jerusalem would continue and expand.”
Hamas also hailed the attacks as “heroic operations.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that his movement “welcomes the heroic operations on the streets of the homeland and considers them a response to the occupation’s crimes against Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque.”
Abu Zuhri said that the attacks were a “message of warning to the occupation before the explosion of the situation.” He called on Palestinians to carry out more terrorist attacks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held late-night security consultations and decided to increase the number of security forces in the field and to advance the demolition of terrorists’ homes. Earlier in the day he told his party’s faction in the Knesset that Israel would withstand this latest wave of violence.
“The terrorism against us knows no borders. It is aimed at all parts of the country for a simple reason.
The terrorists and those who incite to it want to get rid of us wherever we are. As far as they’re concerned, we don’t need to be in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or anywhere else,” he said at a Likud faction meeting.
“I’ll promise you one thing: They won’t succeed,” Netanyahu said.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned the terrorist attacks.
“We strongly condemn the stabbings today. We deeply regret the loss of life. Our condolences go out to the families,” she said.
Psaki called on Israelis and Palestinians to show restraint.Tovah Lazaroff, Lahav Harkov and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.
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