Soldiers kill Palestinian as stabbing attacks reach Tel Aviv

Soldiers kill Palestinian as stabbing attacks reach Tel Aviv
A Palestinian was killed in Tel Aviv on Thursday after an Israeli soldier and three passers-by were stabbed, Israeli officials have said.
4 min read
08 October, 2015
Stabbing attacks have spread to Tel Aviv [Getty]

An Israeli soldier and three passers-by were stabbed Thursday in Tel Aviv and the attacker was killed, officials said, the latest in a series of violence.

The alleged suspect stabbed the four with a screwdriver, and another soldier who was in the area shot him dead, police said. All of the victims were lightly wounded.

Police did not provide further details on the attacker apart from identifying him as a "terrorist".

Earlier Thursday, a Palestinian stabbed a 25-year-old Jewish man in Jerusalem, leaving him in serious condition, and the attacker was arrested.

Israeli politicians banned from holy site

The violence comes as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has barred all Cabinet ministers and lawmakers from entering a sensitive Jerusalem holy site, fearing any high-profile spectacle could further enflame tensions that have gripped the country for weeks.

But lawmakers in Israel have vowed to defy Netanyahu's decision pledging to visit it on Friday.


Netanyahu's move to try and calm the situation is now appearing to put the Israeli leader on a collision course with hard-liners within his own governing coalition.

They have been putting intense pressure on Netanyahu to respond to the surge in violence with a tough crackdown and increased settlement activity.

Netanyahu is also wary of angering the American administration and risking another full-fledged uprising with too tough a response that could lead to a higher number of casualties on both sides.

The Jerusalem hilltop compound lies at the heart of recent tensions. It's revered by Muslims as the spot where Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Many Palestinians believe Israel is trying to expand Jewish presence at the site, a claim Israel adamantly denies and considers slanderous. Under a longstanding arrangement administered by Islamic authorities, Jews are allowed to visit the site during certain hours but not pray there.

The latest unrest began about three weeks ago as Palestinians repeatedly barricaded themselves inside the al-Aqsa mosque, located at the sacred site, and hurled stones, firebombs and fireworks at the police.

The violence later spread to Palestinian neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem and to the occupied West Bank, and on Tuesday there were disturbances in Jaffa, a largely Palestinian area of Tel Aviv.

In all, four Israelis have been killed in stabbings by Palestinian attackers and a roadside shooting in recent days. Five Palestinians, including three of the attackers, have been killed. On Wednesday, new stabbings occurred outside a crowded mall in central Israel, in a southern Israeli town and in the Old City of Jerusalem.

According to the Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations, Netanyahu ordered the ban on the holy site because he was concerned that any visits to the site could spark further violence.

In 2000, then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount shortly before the second Palestinian intifada erupted.

Netanyahu's ban, which initially only applied to Jewish lawmakers, sparked an angry response from Uri Ariel, a Cabinet minister from the pro-settler Jewish Home party, who recently visited the site and drew Palestinian claims of a provocation. He said on Thursday that he would take the issue up directly with Netanyahu.

Responding to the pressure, Netanyahu updated the ban to include all lawmakers. That, in turn, sparked angry threats from several Palestinian lawmakers who said Netanyahu had no moral authority over them. Two of the lawmakers have already announced that they plan to visit the site on Friday.

"Neither Netanyahu nor the right will be able to stop us from entering our al-Aqsa mosque," MP Ahmed Tibi said on Thursday, calling the ban "senseless and illegal".

With the attacks spilling into the Israeli heartland, Netanyahu has warned Israelis to be on guard.

Rising tensions

In another sign of the tensions, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was seen carrying an assault rifle while visiting a Palestinian neighbourhood.

Barkat, a former military officer and licenced gun owner, defended his decision to carry a weapon and on Thursday, he encouraged other licenced gun owners to also carry their weapons at this tense time.

"One of the advantages Israel has is that there are many veterans of military units with operational combat experience," he said. "Having a weapon increases the resident's confidence."

In related developments, Jerusalem's junior high and high schools went on strike Thursday to protest the lack of security on campuses. Barkat said the city's students have been "abandoned" and that it was irresponsible to send them to school with the threat of violence looming.

Israeli attacks on al-Aqsa mosque: Click here to enlarge