Israeli Arab Who Tried to Stab Jerusalem Policeman Shot to Death

Perpetrator identified as 30-year-old Israeli Arab from Umm al-Fahm ■ Police evacuated Temple Mount, scouting area as investigation launched ■ Suspect's family says he suffered from mental distress

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Scene of the stabbing attempt, Haggay St., Jerusalem, August 17, 2018
Scene of the stabbing attempt, Haggay St., Jerusalem, August 17, 2018

An Israeli Arab man who was suspected of trying to stab a Jerusalem policeman was shot to death in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter on Friday afternoon, Israeli police said.

According to police, forces were dispatched to the Old City on Friday afternoon following an initial report on a suspected stabbing attack.

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A statement released by police said the man emerged from an area near the Temple Mount and started walking towards a team of policemen stationed in the area. He then tried to stab one of them with a knife he had in his possession.

Ahmed Mahmad Ahmed Mahmid

A confrontation then ensued, during which the man was shot and killed.

An Israeli ID card found on the suspect at the scene pointed to the fact that he was indeed an Israeli Arab. The man, Ahmed Mahmad Ahmed Mahmid, was a 30-year-old resident of the Arab-majority northern city of Umm al-Fahm.

The scene and alleys in the area of the Old City have been cordoned off. Police opened an investigation into the incident, and have raided Mahmid's family home Friday overnight.

On Saturday, Mahmid's family said they condemned his actions and that he was mentally distressed, adding he could have been incapacitated without being killed.

Nassim, Mahmid's brother, told Israeli media that his brother "did not function, he was being treated ... we brought him back home a few years ago. He was a patient in Sha'ar Menashe [Mental Health Center]. A sick man."

Other family members noted similar incidents where the attacker was stopped without being killed. Umm al-Fahm mayoral candidate Mustapha Abu Majd said Mahmid "was court-martialed. I am against murder, be it of Jewish or Arab. Look at what happened in Hadera - it was a Jewish man and he threatened Israeli police, tried to run them over, and they tackled him ... that's how it should be done."

Other family members insisted the stabbing attempt was not politically motivated, with one saying "They are quick to shoot the man. Doubtless because it's an Arab."

Abu Majd added that no one is condoning murder, that Mahmid's family is normative. "Not a family that sends children to get murdered, no one raises children to get murdered... Let's be reasonable, what happened, I don't know, it was an easy trigger-finger. They could have neutralized him some other way. When it's an Arab the finger is light on the trigger."

In March, an Israeli man was stabbed to death in Jerusalem's Old City as he tried to fend off an armed Palestinian assailant in Haggay St. until police forces arrived. The attacker, a 28-year-old resident of the West Bank village of Aqraba, was shot dead by police officers at the scene.

Haggay St. and the plaza near Damascus gate were both hotspots during Jerusalem's "Knife Intifada" in 2015-2016, with over 20 stabbings taking place in the area. However, the Old City has since enjoyed relative calm and a boom in tourism.

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