Assailant in Central Israel Stabbing Attack Indicted, Planned Larger Attack Using Explosives

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Police investigators at the scene of the stabbing attack in Rosh Ha'ayin on April 3, 2016.
Police investigators at the scene of the stabbing attack in Rosh Ha'ayin on April 3, 2016.Credit: Moti Milrod

An indictment was served to the Lod District Court Sunday against 22-year-old Shatila Abu Iyada, a resident of the central Israeli Arab town of Kafr Qasem, who allegedly stabbed an Israeli woman in Rosh Ha'ayin on April 3.

Abu Iyada has been charged on several counts of attempted murder and plotting a terror attack in restaurants in Rosh Ha'ayin.

The attack took place in the Afek industrial park where a security guard witnessed the events and managed to subdue Abu Iyada without firing his weapon. An additional knife when then found in the assailant's bag.

According to the indictment, Abu Iyada was influenced by the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the arson and murder at the Dawabsheh family's home and other events in the current increase in violence. She was also said to have been driven religiously, in part by a dream she had in which "the prophet" was searching for her, helping to convince her that she "must kill for God."

The indictment also alleged that Abu Iyada had planned to carry out a larger attack than the stabbing which lightly wounded a woman in her hand. Abu Iyada, claimed the indictment, learned to make explosives at home via instructions on the internet in December 2015, and even bought the necessary supplies for such devices to be used in an attack. The materials included screws and bolts intended to increase damage.

The explosives were to be planted in one of two restaurants in the Afek industrial park in Rosh Ha'ayin, according to the indictment, and she went to the two sites several times to check what times the restaurants were at the fullest and to take note of security arrangements at the scene.

After purchasing the material for explosives, Abu Iyada allegedly tried several times to construct a device, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

The accused also considered carrying out an attack using firearms, noted the indictment. In March 2016, Abu Iyada was said to have contacted a salesman and asked that he supply her with an automatic rifle, saying it was to be fired in the air during a celebratory event for her friend.

It was after failing to construct the explosive device or get hold of a firearm that Abu Iyada decided to move forward with a stabbing attack, claimed the indictment.

On the day of the attack, Abu Iyada allegedly left her home armed with two knives and approached the industrial park by foot. She prayed for success in the attack, said the indictment, and destroyed a cell phone that was in her possession.

Abu Iyada picked out a female victim at approximately 1 P.M., and after establishing that she was Jewish, ran toward her and managed to stab her in the left hand. During the ensuing physical struggle between the two, Abu Iyada also managed to stab her victim once in the chest.

The victim began yelling "She's stabbing me," at a passerby and Abu Iyada turned around toward the passerby and tried to stab him as well. As others began to gather in the area drawn by the commotion and tried to grab Abu Iyada, she began to run, trying to stab everyone in her way.

After a short chase, some of the passerbies were able to capture her until police arrived on the scene and arrested her. Abu Iyada sustained several bruises as events unfolded, and was evacuated for medical care at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.

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