21 Jan 2015

Palestinian ‘stabs 10’ in Israel bus attack

A Palestinian man injures 13 people in a knife-attack on a commuter bus in central Tel Aviv before being shot in the leg, Israeli police say.

Bus attack in Tel Aviv, Israel

The attack took place at 7:15am Wednesday morning on the No 40 bus leaving 13 people injured in total, according to police reports. Two of the wounded are said to be in a severe condition according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

The attack is the first of its kind in 2015 and comes at a time of rising tensions between Palestinians, particularly in the West Bank, and Israelis.

Tel Aviv police commander Bentzi Sau said the attacker was a West Bank resident who boarded the bus on Menachem Begin Road and proceeded to attacked the public bus driver before turning on passengers.

“Shortly after he boarded the bus, the assailant stabbed the driver several times but there was an excellent response from him as he resisted the attack and in this way the terrorist was stunned,” Mr Sau said.

Prison officers travelling in a nearby vehicle saw the attack and gave chase, the police commander said. The man was caught in a nearby street and shot in the leg when he tried to escape and was arrested at the scene.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the Palestinian was a 23-year-old resident of the town of Tulkarm in the West Bank.

A doctor at Tel Aviv’s Icholov hospital said seven people had been admitted for treatment, four of whom were seriously hurt.

‘Protective edge’

The attacker, who has been named as Hamza Muhammed Hassan Matrouk, allegedly told Israeli police that the stabbing was a response to Operation Protective Edge, the 51-day military campaign launched by the Israeli military on the Gaza Strip last summer that left at least 1483 Palestinian civilians dead.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu placed the blame on Hamas and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas: “The terrorist attack in Tel Aviv is the direct result of the poisonous incitement being disseminated by the Palestinian Authority against the Jews and their state. This same terrorism is trying to attack us in Paris, Brussels and everywhere,” he said.

“It is Hamas – Abu Mazen’s partners in a unity government – that hastened to commend this attack. This is the same Hamas that announced it will sue Israel at the international criminal court in the Hague. Abu Mazen is responsible for both the incitement and the dangerous move at the ICC in the Hague.”

Hamas official Izzat Risheq took to twitter to praise the attack against Israelis as “heroic and daring” and was “a natural response to the occupation and its terrorist crimes against our people.”

Rising tensions

There have been a number of attacks by Palestinians on Israel in the past few months, including an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem last November that left five dead. There have also been a number of “price-tag” attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers in recent months including an arson attack on a mixed Jewish-Arab school.

Israel struck Gaza in December, its first strike on the area since the violence of last summer, as it targeted a “Hamas terror infrastructure site”. It also vowed revenge and razed the home of a man behind the November attack.

Earlier this month the International Criminal Court opened a preliminary investigation into attacks in Palestinian territories, which could pave the way for a war crimes investigation against Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “absurd” and on Monday a senior US Republican senator threatened that the US could cut off aid to Palestine if it files a complaint against Israel.