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The police said the suspected assailant fled the scene and a manhunt was currently underway, with heavy police presence in the area.
The woman, 65, was evacuated in moderate condition to the Soroka Medical Center, Be’er Sheva, with wounds to her ear and the back of her neck. The hospital said she was stable but was being kept overnight for observation.
Paramedics identified the woman as Jewish, but it was initially unclear if the attack was politically motivated, though police later said they were investigating the attack as such.
Her daughter told Haaretz that while the entire family had entered a shop in the market, her mom remained outside. She said they had only come to Rahat for a few minutes. The family was from a local kibbutz.
Speaking to Haaretz from the hospital, the victim said: "I thought I had gotten shocked because my ears started to ring. My daughter heard me so she came [out of the store] and my son-in-law told me that I was bleeding, so I applied pressure until the ambulance came." When asked if she were to return to Rahat, she said "I don't want to so much, but we go to Rahat all the time. I never had any apprehension about it. The clinic we work with is in Rahat, but maybe I'll have a problem coming back. I don't know."
According to MDA paramedics, the incident occurred in the town's market and when they arrived at the scene the woman was fully conscious and receiving first aid from her family members. "She said she was shopping with her family in the market," Gil Askvich, a paramedic, said.
Local council head Sigal Moran said that she trusts authorities to find and try the assailant, but added that "no terrorist – despicable as he might be – will manage to harm the neighborly ties we share with Rahat and its residents, who are no doubt as angry and sad with the incident as I am."