Tel Aviv Bus Terrorist Says He Was Motivated by Gaza War, Temple Mount, Martyrdom

West Bank Palestinian Hamza Matrouk, 23, tells story to investigators; friends say he 'seemed completely normal' the night before.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Hamza Matrouk, 23, after being shot in the leg by Israeli security officer following Matrouk's alleged stabbing of 12 people on Tel Aviv bus, January 21, 2015.
Hamza Matrouk, 23, after being shot in the leg by Israeli security officer following Matrouk's alleged stabbing of 12 people on Tel Aviv bus, January 21, 2015.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The Palestinian arrested for stabbing 12, three of whom were critically wounded, on a Tel Aviv bus Wednesday morning told investigators he was motivated by Israel's summer war in Gaza, the recent fighting over the Temple Mount and Islamist broadcasts praising the martyr's "road to paradise," the Shin Bet has said.

Friends of Hamza Mohammed Hasan Matrouk said the 23-year-old was with them Tuesday night in Tul Karm refugee camp, where they live.

Matrouk showed no signs of distress or agitation on the night before the attack, they said. "He seemed completely normal," said one companion.

The friends said further that Matrouk was not known as an activist or supporter of any Palestinian political faction.

They said he divided his time between Tul Karm and Ramallah, where his mother, who is separated from his father, lives.

Hamza Mohammed Hasan Matrouk

Matrouk, who did not have a permit to enter Israel, was shot in the leg after the stabbings by an Israel Prison Service officer on Hamasger Street, near the scene of the attack. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and questioning by police and the Shin Bet.

The stabbings were carried out on a No. 40 bus on Menachem Begin Road, a major thoroughfare in Tel Aviv, near the Ma'ariv Bridge.

Preliminary findings were that Matrouk got to Tel Aviv Wednesday morning and boarded the bus at the Old Central Bus Station. After the bus passed two stops and more passengers got on, he took out a knife and started stabbing passengers.

Matrouk's detention will be extended for four days. Because he purchased the knife in the West Bank, he will be brought before a military court in the settlement Ariel. He was not taken to court on Wednesday because the bullet wound to his leg requires his hospitalization.

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