Light rail attack - Emil Salman - March 2012
The rail car after yesterday’s attack in Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev. Neighborhood residents say they have been warning about security lapses on the light rail system for months. Photo by Emil Salman
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Terror made its debut in Jerusalem's light railway system yesterday, when Yehudit Aharon, a 19-year-old soldier from Jerusalem, was stabbed in a moving rail car in the capital's Pisgat Ze'ev quarter. The incident appears to have been the first of its kind on Jerusalem's new rail system; officials suspect that the assailant acted out of nationalist motivations.

The stabber, a Palestinian, fled the scene but was subsequently apprehended at the Qalandiyah checkpoint. He confessed to the stabbing. Aharon was taken in a serious condition to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center. She subsequently showed improvement, and her condition was listed as moderate.

The stabber boarded the light rail car, which traveled northward, at the Beit Hanina station. Preliminary police investigations indicate that security inspectors at the depot examined the man before he boarded the train, but apparently did not notice the knife he was carrying. The assailant sat across from the soldier, and a few seconds before the train reached its next destination he stabbed her in the chest and hand. When the train stopped and the doors opened, he fled in the direction of Beit Hanina. A few security guards chased him; the soldier remained on the train. The train continued to move; when it reached the next station, Rehov Yekutiel Adam, the soldier received medical assistance.

Police forces swept through the area and tracked down the assailant at the Qalandiyah checkpoint. The suspect was taken by the Shin Bet security service for questioning.

Jerusalem periphery police chief, Commander Nissim Edri, told Haaretz that a non-Jew on the train "accosted a woman soldier who was sitting near him, stabbed her a few times and fled. The train's security men chased him."

After the incident, City Pass, the company which runs the light railway system, declared a temporary stoppage of northbound rail service.

Pisgat Ze'ev residents said yesterday that they have been warning for months about the security dangers posed by the light railway. Yael Entebbe, a neighborhood resident who serves on the Jerusalem municipal council, stated "what happened today is what we have been warning about for some time. Not enough thought has been given to security issues posed by the light railway. What makes matters worse is that they're thinking about ending the bus service. The railway's routes go through Arab neighborhoods."

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said yesterday that "I view the attempt to disrupt our life in Jerusalem as a very grave matter. The routine in the city will continue, and the light railway will continue to run and serve all residents of Jerusalem."

While visiting the victim in the hospital, Barkat referred to the fact that an armed assailant managed to board the railroad car. "Security guards cannot do everything," he said. "A stabbing can happen anywhere, but of course we'll have to examine what happened here. We have to stay alert."