E. Jerusalem Man Shot After Guard Mistakes Belt Buckle for Knife

Hatem Saleh says he did intend to harm Jews, but he was unarmed at the time of the incident. Guards say he shouted 'Allahu akbar' before they opened fire.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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The light rail station in Jerusalem, Archive.
The light rail station in Jerusalem, Archive.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Security guards shot and wounded an East Jerusalem man on Monday morning, saying they thought he was attempting to stab guards and passengers at a light-rail station in Jerusalem.

Hatem Saleh, a 35-year-old man from the East Jerusalem town of Shoafat, told investigators he had intended to harm Jews. However, he was unarmed at the time of the incident.

The security guards at the station in Jerusalem's French Hill said Saleh pricked a guard with his belt buckle. Thinking he had been stabbed, the guard called for assistance, they said.

There have been several attacks in the capital in recent months, including an attack on a bus station in the same neighborhood.

The guards said one of them fired at Saleh's legs after he approached a group of passengers and shouted "Allahu akbar!" ("God is great!"), which many Muslim terrorists shout just before committing a terror attack.

Saleh's lawyer, Mohammad Mahmoud, said his client wanted to take revenge on security guards at the station after he was beaten by guards there Sunday. But Mahmoud said he was unarmed and had not even removed his belt before the security guard opened fire.

"I travel on the light rail and I see how the security guards behave toward the Arabs," said Mahmoud. "I'm sick of saying the same sentences that no one hears, but the state treats its minorities - Arabs and Ethiopians - violently."

Saleh, who sustained moderate injuries, underwent an operation on his leg at Jersualem's Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, on Monday night.

Security forces initially searched the area for additional suspects and launched an investigation.

A remand hearing will be held Tuesday, though he may not be well enough to attend.

Violence in the Jerusalem area has flared on and off since just before the 50-day Gaza war over the summer.

On April 25, a Palestinian youth was shot dead after he tried to stab Border Police officers at a security post near the A-Zaim checkpoint, East Jerusalem.

On April 16th a 37-year-old Palestinian man ploughed his car into a bus station killing Shalom Yohai Sherki, 25, and seriously wounding Shira Klein, 20, who were sitting near at the station in the north Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill.

The recent flare ups have not been confined to Jerusalem. At the beginning of the April, two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded in a stabbing attack at the Shiloh Junction in the northern West Bank. One of the victims was seriously wounded in his upper body and the other sustained light injuries to his back. The assailant was shot and killed on the spot.

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