Palestinian murders IDF soldier in suspected terror attack at Afula bus station

Police: 16-year-old wanted to avenge relatives jailed in Israel.

Private Eden Atias (photo credit: Facebook)
Private Eden Atias
(photo credit: Facebook)
A Palestinian teen from the West Bank stabbed an IDF soldier to death Wednesday morning inside a bus at the Afula bus station.
The soldier was named as 18-year-old Pvt. Eden Atias, a resident of Upper Nazareth. He was on his way back to his base and, according to some reports, was asleep in his seat when he was murdered.
Thousands of mourners attended the funeral, which took place at the military cemetery in Upper Nazareth at 11 p.m. on Wednesday. Atias’s father, who is currently in prison, was brought to the funeral in his prison uniform accompanied by Prisons Service guards.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the soldier was critically wounded at the scene and taken to the Emek Medical Center in Afula, where he died shortly thereafter. Rosenfeld added that the attack is being treated as ideologically-motivated, as the man told investigators he stabbed the soldier because he has a relative in an Israeli prison.
Sec.-Lt. Yitzhak Maimon, an IDF officer who first arrested the Palestinian youth who carried out the deadly knife attack, told how he arrived at Afula’s central bus station, when he saw an incident unfolding on a bus. He described boarding the vehicle, moving to the back seats, and seeing “a terrorist who seconds earlier stabbed a soldier. Within seconds, when I understood that this is a terror attack, I took responsibility for the incident. I directed my weapon at the terrorist, cocked the gun, and the terrorist froze and gave himself up on the spot.”
Maimon then led the Palestinian to security guards at the bus station.
“I share the family’s grief and pain,” Maimon added. “As an IDF commander, I’m confident we’re doing our best to safeguard the lives of citizens.”
Magen David Adom paramedics said that at 8:38 a.m.
they received a call that a young man had been stabbed inside a bus at the Afula bus station.
When they arrived they said they found the victim in critical condition.
MDA quoted paramedic Hadar Bachar as saying that when they arrived at the scene they found the victim sitting in a seat near the back door of the bus, with wounds across his body and in great pain. He was then taken to the medical center, where later police announced he had died.
The attacker is a 16-year-old Palestinian from the Jenin area, according to security services. The Prisons Service stated after the killing that two of his cousins are in prison in Israel.
One of them, Muhammed Juwadra, is serving three life sentences for the murder of Cartiso Radikov and Amos Mantiu, a Bezeq employee shot dead in the village of Baka al- Gharbiya in 2003 during the second intifada.
The other cousin is serving a 12-year-sentence for attempted murder.
In response to the stabbing, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said peace cannot occur if this type of Palestinian incitement continues.
“Surrounding the murderer is an education system, official Palestinian Authority newspapers, mosques and other places in Palestinian society that are full of incitement,” Netanyahu said. “If we want real peace, the incitement has to stop.”
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz agreed, saying that the “horrible” anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli incitement in the Palestinian Authority is “also responsible” for the soldier’s murder.
Steinitz said while he was confident that the PA “will condemn it, sooner or later, in English as they often do,” the PA cannot exonerate itself because of the “terrible, horrible anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement that has become a culture of hatred in the Palestinian Authority, sponsored by the government and President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas].”
Steinitz, whose ministry is responsible for monitoring Palestinian incitement, said the message young Palestinians are being fed on a daily basis in the official PA media and in the schools is that “sooner or later Israel should be destroyed, or the Jews killed or expelled.”
“This terrible idea that Jews are horrible creatures is also responsible for this act of terror, while we are negotiating a peace deal,” he said at a speech hosted by the Jerusalem Press Club.
According to Steinitz, the incitement and culture of hatred that it leads to is the “main obstacle for peace.”
And incitement, he added, was sponsored not by “zealots or some members of parliament,” but by the Palestinian Authority.
In light of this incitement, he said, many Israelis are asking themselves whether at the end of any diplomatic process they will get “genuine peace, or only a piece of paper.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon sent his condolences to Atias’s family, and said that the “war against terrorism, with much sorrow, has casualties, but we will continue our firm struggle against terrorism, those who perpetrate it and carry it out.”
“We’ll act aggressively against organizations that seek to activate institutionalized terrorism against us,” Ya’alon vowed.
He added that attacks by lone individuals “stems mainly from incitement by the Palestinian Authority, which, even as we sit with its representatives for talks, continues to educate the next generation to idolize terrorists and murder Jews, preaches hatred and is unwilling to recognize our right to exist in any borders.”
President Shimon Peres, speaking Wednesday night at the swearing in of Karnit Flug as the Bank of Israel governor, paid tribute to the memory of Atias.
“I am certain that the government and the state will do all in their power to prevent incidents of this kind from recurring in the future,” he said.
Earlier that day, lawmakers in Netanyahu’s party called for him to stop peace talks.
“The talks are deluding both the Israeli public and the Arabs,” Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said. “We must stop this predictable crash course immediately.”
Danon also called to stop the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely said “the Palestinian Authority’s well-oiled incitement system continues to claim victims.”
“Mahmoud Abbas has a tactic of indirectly harming Israel.
Jews aren’t killed by PA officials but by the ‘Palestinian street,’ which is fed each day by anti- Israel propaganda. We cannot continue talking peace while the PA is talking terror,” Hotovely added.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni sent her condolences to the soldier’s family and wrote on Facebook that now is not the time for political arguments.
However, she added that “violence will not bring diplomatic achievements. We will fight terror and extremism without compromise.”
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich said that her heart goes out to the soldier’s family and that she trusts the IDF in its fight against terror.
The Labor leader called on Netanyahu not to use the attack “to continue sabotaging negotiations, which anyway are bruised and battered taking place under the shadow of a crisis with the US.”
Bayit Yehudi MKs spoke out against concessions in negotiations, with Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky saying the stabbing “is a direct result of Israel’s policy of freeing terrorists.”
“We make difficult concessions for which we pay in human lives, while the Palestinians only talk,” he stated.
“The current situation endangers our sons and daughters while the PA celebrates the release of murderers. This is intolerable and must stop immediately.”
MK Mordechai Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) said the attack was a result of the IDF not doing enough to stop Palestinians from illegally entering Israel.
“When PA incitement teaches hatred of Jews and calls to destroy us... our security forces must enforce the law and realize that they can prevent the next murder,” he remarked.
Almagor Terror Victims Organization chairman Meir Indor said “we cannot ignore what is behind the recent chain of terror attacks. It is encouraged by the American government, which threatens the obedient Israeli government if they do not release terrorists.”
“The lives of Jews are not as important to [US Secretary of State] John Kerry as the residents of Boston. He wouldn’t have released the Chechen terrorist,” Indor added, in reference to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspected Boston Marathon bomber.Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.