Arab MKs Slam Close-range Shooting of Knife-wielding Woman

Asra'a Zidan Tawfik Abed was seriously wounded by police after trying to stab a soldier; video sparks claims the gunfire was unwarranted.

A video documenting the shooting of an Israeli Arab woman who allegedly attempted to stab a soldier in the northern Israeli city of Afula on Friday has been met with scorn from Israeli Arab lawmakers, who claim police and security guards used unnecessary force when they fired at her.

The woman, Asra'a Zidan Tawfik Abed, a 30-year-old Nazareth resident, was seriously wounded by the gunfire. 

Gil Eliahu

In a video currently making the rounds on Israeli and Palestinian social media, the woman can be seen holding a knife surrounded by police officers and local security guards at the Central Bus Station in Afula. At some point, an officer approaches her and seems to open fire from close range, followed by additional gunshots, possibly from other officers. Throughout the video, the woman seems to barely move, sparking claims that she posed no direct threat at the time she was shot. Some 15 different shells were found at the scene, though it is unclear if all were fired.

In wake of the video's publication, Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas said there is no indication she intended to perpetrate a terror attack, and said that "the police and media are encouraging cold-blooded executions of Arab citizens." Israeli Arab lawmaker Yousef Jabareen, also from Joint Arab List, said the video has sparked outrage among Israel's Arab community. He demanded the police officers involved in the shooting be removed from their positions. "It is clear as daylight that the woman posed no direct threat that could justify her being shot," he said. "We cannot allow the police to continue this policy of murder," he added, blaming what he called governmental incitement against Arabs.

Afula police chief Eytan Menashe defended the officers' conduct, saying both they and local security guards "acted professionally." A Border Police officer who was at the scene said the knife-wielding woman tried to approach the forces, prompting them to "fire directly" at her and "neutralize" her. He said they then handcuffed her and pushed the knife away.

Zidan Tawfik Abed, a mother of three with no prior security related offenses, is a chemical engineering masters student at the Technion. Her father is a prominent Nazareth imam.