An Arab man from the West Bank was arrested in the Central Israel city of Petah Tikva Monday morning after illegally infiltrating the area and stabbing a 32-year-old Arab-Israeli male victim in what police are deeming a terrorist attack.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), said the unidentified suspect, a 21-year-old from the village of Qalqiliya, was imprisoned between 2015-2016 for unspecified terrorist activity. He is currently being interrogated.
According to The Jerusalem Post
’s sister publication Maariv
, a worker at a nearby pizza restaurant struck and subdued the attacker with a pizza tray amid the frenzy.
The victim, an Egged bus driver reportedly from the Israeli-Arab town of Arara, was stabbed in the neck in front of a downtown shawarma stand after apparently being mistaken for a Jew.
He was treated at the scene by Magen David Adom paramedics and transferred to Beilinson Hospital in moderate-to-serious condition, police said.
It remains unclear why the victim was targeted in the attack, although it was reported that the assailant said “I did it for Al Aksa,” apparently referring to recent police measures to install metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount.
The suspect was tackled by bystanders after attempting to flee the scene by foot, police said.
“A man came in and ordered shawarma,” an employee at the shawarma shop told Ynet shortly after the attack.
“There was nothing out of the ordinary about his behavior. Afterwards an Egged driver came in who eats with us regularly. He placed his order and went over to the refrigerator to take a soft drink. As I was preparing his order another driver came in and I suddenly heard him shout ‘terror attack, terror attack!'”
Magen David Adom paramedic Tom Dagan said the victim was fully conscious and sitting upright on a chair when first-responders arrived and attempted to stop the bleeding.
“We provided him with lifesaving medical treatment, stopped his bleeding wounds, transported him onto an MDA mobile intensive care unit, and evacuated him to Beilinson Hospital in moderate-severe condition,” said Dagan.
No other injuries were reported.
The attack follows a weekend of deadly violence, exacerbated by Arab incitement after police installed metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount, where Al-Aksa Mosque has frequently been used to store weapons used in a string of deadly attacks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would sever security ties with Israel until it reverses its decision regarding the metal detectors.
Meanwhile, Hamas and other terror organizations have seized on the development to incite zealots by falsely claiming the mosque is under threat; a deadly tactic that helped spur the so-called “stabbing intifada” two years ago.
The Security Cabinet met during a late-night session Sunday to discuss ways to deal with escalating Temple Mount tension, amid efforts by the US, Jordan and Egypt to find a way to defuse the crisis.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a Facebook post before the meeting, however, that Israel should not give in to “threats and violence.”
Erdan said Israel should not remove the metal detectors placed there last week to the fury of the Palestinians and parts of the Muslim world until the police approve another plan to ensure security at the site.
The Security Cabinet meeting came against the backdrop of ongoing tension on the Temple Mount, resulting in the deaths of three Palestinian rioters Friday, and the subsequent terrorist attack at Halamish (Neveh Tzuf) that killed three Israelis.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.