A 21-year-old British student was killed in a stabbing attack near the Old City in Jerusalem on Friday. The assailant, a mentally unstable man from East Jerusalem, has been apprehended, the police said. In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tied the attack to global Islamic terrorism.
The attack took place in a light rail car near Tzahal Square. Paramedics performed CPR on the woman, who was stabbed multiple times, according to the Magen David Adom emergency response service. She was then rushed to the Hadassah Medical Center, Mount Scopus, where she was later pronounced dead.
Another woman, who is pregnant, was injured when the train stopped, and a man was hurt while trying to flee the assailant. They are both lightly hurt, MDA said.
The Hebrew University named the victim as Hannah Bladon, and said that she was studying at the school as part of the student exchange program with the University of Birmingham, where she studied theology. According to the university, Bladon, born in 1996, began her studies in Jerusalem in January 2017 and was scheduled to remain through the end of the semester.
The assailant has been identified as Gamil Tamimi, 57, a Palestinian resident of Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem who was recently released from a psychiatric hospital, according to police.
A psychiatric report said that he had grown increasingly aggressive and violent over the last month.
The Shin Bet said that Tamimi had tried to commit suicide by swallowing a razorblade while hospitalized. In 2011, he was convicted of molesting his daughter.
"This is yet another case of a Palestinian suffering from personal, mental or moral distress choosing to commit an act of terror to escape his problems," the Shin Bet says.
According to the Rothberg International School at Hebrew University, Bladon had been taking bible studies, archaeology and Hebrew classes.
In a Facebook comment dated January 24, she wrote, "Security is really tight on campus so no worries." The comment was made on a photograph she posted of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.
In a statement, Hebrew University expressed "deep sorrow over the murder of a British student, Hannah Bladon."
"The university condemns such acts of terror that harm innocent people, and especially a student who came to Jerusalem to study and widen her academic horizons," the statement added.
Rona Evyasaf, one of Bladon's teachers at Hebrew University, wrote on Facebook: "I found her to be very serious about her studies and very excited about archeology (she wanted to go on a dig before she goes back home). This is breaking my heart."
"We are deeply saddened to hear about the death of our student Hannah Bladon who was killed whilst on an exchange programme in Jerusalem," said a statement from Birmingham University, mentioning that support would be available to any student affected by the event.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon sent his condolences to the family of the woman, and tied the attack to global terrorism in a statement. "We see that Islamic terrorsm is striking main cities around the world, including in Jerusalem, our capital."
"In this holiday of liberty [Passover], our security forces will hunt down and arrest the terrorists, those who send them and the agitators," he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also tied the attack to global terrorism, in a statement issued shortly after Kahlon's. "Radical Islamic terrorism is striking world capitals. Regretfully, terrorism struck today in Israel's capital – Jerusalem.
"A Palestinian terrorist murdered in cold blood a 23-year-old student, a British citizen. In the name of all the People of Israel, I send my condolences to the family of the victim."
President Reuven Rivlin also issued a statement: “The bitter news of the young woman’s death in a terror attack in Jerusalem fills me with deep sorrow.”
The attack took place during Passover week, while Jerusalem is surging with visitors. On Saturday, thousands of Christian pilgrims are expected to take part Holy Fire ceremony in the city.
Some 1,500 police officers from other districts have been deployed in Jerusalem over Passover, with the city on high alert. Nevertheless, senior police officials said before the holiday that there hasn't been a concrete advance warning about terror attacks.