'Suicidal' Israeli Arab Woman Mistaken for Terrorist Charged With Possessing a Knife

The defendant who brandished a weapon and was shot at the Afula bus station had been hoping to be killed by security forces.

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Scene of Afula shooting after Israeli Arab woman attempted to stab soldier. October 9, 2015.
The scene of the Afula shooting, October 9, 2015.Credit: Gil Eliahu

An Israeli Arab woman from Nazareth, who was shot and arrested after brandishing a knife at the central bus station in Afula a few weeks ago, was charged on Thursday with possessing a knife and making threats. According to the indictment Asra’a Zidan Abed, 29, did not intend to carry out an attack, but was suicidal when she arrived at the bus station on October 9 and began waving a knife in the air. The State Prosecutor said that Abed, who had attempted to kill herself in the past, had planned to commit suicide by getting herself shot by security forces in Afula, and asked the court to detain her until the end of proceedings.

“The respondent’s mental state reinforces her dangerousness and is reflected in her readiness to take her own life while harming others, and there is evidence of an escalation compared to her previous attempts. In these circumstances there is a fear that she will make another suicide attempt, also involving a risk to life,” according to the detention request.

“The facts in the indictment indicate that Abed tried to commit suicide in the past, and three weeks ago she decided to try again, one reason being the end of a relationship. On the morning of the incident Abed sent text messages in which she hinted at her intentions. During her interrogation she said she wanted to kill herself, and preferred to do so in a manner that would make her a shahida (Islamic martyr).”

On the afternoon of October 9 she came to the Afula bus station and pretended that she intended to stab someone so that security forces would shoot and kill her. Armed with a knife she stood on one of the platforms near a group of people. She waved the knife in a threatening manner but refrained from stabbing a Haredi man who was standing near her, and shouted at the armed soldiers “You’re terrorists.” The people on the platform thought she was about to stab them and began to flee, while soldiers and security personnel gathered around her. They shouted at her to drop the knife but she continued to hold it, until she was shot several times in the pelvic area.

“I came to the trial of a daughter from our city,” Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam told the court: “From early on I said that she was a genius who excelled in high school. We didn’t believe that she would carry out attacks and I immediately said it was a criminal incident.” Salam said he had promised to rehabilitate Abed’s family.

Abed, the daughter of a well-known imam, had reportedly lost custody of her child following her recent divorce. She had studied at the Technion Institute of Technology.

Abed’s attorney said that she should not be detained until the conclusion of proceedings, because of her family and her social circumstances.

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