For the First Time in a Decade, a Palestinan Terrorist Had an Israeli Work Permit

Riad Mahmoud Al-Masalma was employed at a restaurant near the site where he allegedly carried out a stabbing attack in south Tel Aviv Thursday, killing two.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Riad Mahmoud Al-Masalma.
Riad Mahmoud Al-Masalma.Credit: Screenshot
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Palestinian assailant who stabbed two Israelis to death in Tel Aviv on Thursday had an Israeli work permit, according to the Shin Bet.

According to security sources, it has been a decade since an attack was perpetrated by a Palestinian who underwent a Shin Bet background check and was authorized to work in Israel.

Riad Mahmoud Al-Masalma, 36, of the West Bank Palestinian town of Dura near Hebron, had been issued the permit this week and was employed at a restaurant near the site of the attack in south Tel Aviv, the Shin Bet security service confirmed.

Masalma carried out the attack in a commercial building, where he encountered a group reciting afternoon prayers. He reportedly stabbed them from behind. In addition to the two fatalities, one person sustained moderate wounds in the attack.

Prior to Thursday's attack, security officials had noted that in the current wave of terror there had not been a single instance of a terrorist attack carried out within Israel proper by a Palestinian who had been given permission by the Shin Bet to work in Israel. All of the Palestinians who have carried out attacks in Israel proper during the current wave of terror had been in the country illegally. Most, like Al-Masalma, came from the Hebron area.

About 60,000 West Bank Palestinians have permits to work inside Israel, including 14,000 from the Hebron area.

Even as Israeli forces work to prevent further attacks, security officials have noted the importance of continued employment of Palestinians within the country. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and other defense officials have opposed suggestions that a blockade be imposed on West Bank Palestinians entering Israel.

"[The] civil-economic routine in the West Bank will be continuing, as long as there is no need to take more stringent measures," Ya'alon said last week.

It is as yet unclear whether the latest attack will result in a re-examination of the policy.

About three hours after Thursday attack in Tel Aviv, in a separate incident, three people were killed and a number of others wounded in a terrorist attack in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank.

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