Israeli Woman Stabbed to Death by Lone Terrorist in Petah Tikva

Kinneret Ben-Shalom Hajbi, 58, of Petah Tikva was killed and five other people were wounded yesterday morning when a Palestinian stabbed several passengers on an interurban minibus in Petah Tikva.

The wounded were taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. Four are listed in serious condition, with extensive cuts and stab wounds. The fifth, a woman, was treated and released yesterday.

The assailant, Ahmed Kafina, 22, from the West Bank village of al-Sawiya, was arrested after being subdued by passersby. He is not known to the Shin Bet security services, which believe he was acting alone. Villagers yesterday described him as "unstable." Kafina was remanded into custody for three days.

The incident began at about 9:30 A.M. when Kafina boarded the No. 51 minibus on Pinsker Street in Petah Tikva. There were eight other passengers in the vehicle. A few stops later, on Jabotinsky St. in Petah Tikva, Kafina pulled out a knife. According to witness statements given to the police, he shouted "Alla Hu Akbar" [God is great] and began stabbing people.

"I saw someone going berserk in the bus and did all I could," the driver, Michael, related later. "I immediately realized it was a terrorist." The driver hit Kafina with a broomstick that was in the vehicle.

Shlomi Shriker, 30, a computer professional on his way to work in Ramat Gan, sat on the back bench of the minibus. Kafina was in front of him. Shriker's family said yesterday, "The terrorist began stabbing a female passenger sitting in front of him. Shlomi tried to protect her and then he was stabbed in the arm and then in his chest. He bent over from the pain and was stabbed twice more in the back. The terrorist ran amok, he tried to stab everyone."

Shriker was hospitalized in Beilinson. "He was seriously traumatized by the incident and his conscience is bothering him because he was unable to overpower and stop the terrorist," Shriker's uncle, Shimon Shushan, said yesterday.

Another passenger, Reut Kasarian, 30, a non-commissioned officer on her way to her army base, jumped out the bus window. Her mother, Raya Kahana, said that when she answered a call from her daughter's cell phone, "I heard screams that only crazy people can make and didn't understand what was happening. It was only later that I realized it was when the terrorist was going nuts."

The vehicle stopped about 100 meters after the stabbings began.

"I saw a man running toward me and yelling that a terrorist is killing people in the van. I saw another man running from the van, holding his chest and bleeding. Then I saw the terrorist on the sidewalk holding a knife and a woman whose belly was bleeding. A man stood next to him pointing a gun at him and told him to throw down the knife. I took a two-meter iron rod and hit the terrorist in the legs. He fell and the knife dropped from his hand. He tried to rise and I hit him again, then I and the man with the gun overpowered him until the police came," Eli Haziza, 64, the deputy manager of the warehouse at the Kaniel factory, related yesterday.

Yeshurun Gavish, 25, of Kedumim, was the man with the gun. Gavish was on his way to work at the nearby offices of Millennium when he heard the screams. "I was leaving the parking lot with a friend and heard that someone was stabbing people in a taxi. I took my friend's pistol and from about 50 meters I saw the terrorist trying to stab a woman. I didn't know it was a terrorist and debated whether to shoot ... I shot two bullets at the ground near him to deter him. If I'd known he was a terrorist, I would have shot to kill and then I would have confirmed the kill," Gavish said.

Residents of Sawiya said that for several years Kanifa has tried unsuccessfully to complete his education at Abu Dis University in East Jerusalem and at Al-Najah University in Nablus. He was recently expelled from the latter institution after being suspected of cheating on exams.

Villagers said Kafina had drifted among student organizations associated with Fatah, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Recently he had been staying mainly in the village. When he left home yesterday morning, he told his family he was going to Abu Dis University.