Kiryat Arba Stabber Said He Wanted to Become a 'Martyr' on Facebook

Mohammed Tra'ayra, 19, who stabbed 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel to death in her home, had praised terrorists and voiced his wish to carry out an attack on social media.

Relatives of Hallel Ariel at her room in Kiryat Arba, June 30, 2016.
Olivieh Fitoussi

The Palestinian who stabbed a 13-year-old Israeli-American girl in her West Bank home on Thursday had been praising terrorists and voiced his wish to die a "martyr's death" on Facebook in the days before the attack.

Following the attack, in the settlement of Kiryat Arba outside Hebron, the Israeli army has started examining how to improve its methods of monitoring social media posts by potential terrorists in order to forestall attacks.

Mohammed Nasser Tra'ayra, 19, from the Palestinian village of Bani Na'im, jumped the settlement's perimeter fence and then broke into the isolated home, stabbing Hallel Yaffa Ariel in her sleep.

The settlement's security guards rushed to the scene, alerted by the electronic system triggered when Tra'ayra jumped the fence, and shot the assailant dead. 

After the attack it was revealed that Tra'ayra praised a Palestinian woman who carried out a car-ramming attack in Kiryat Arba a week ago. In a Facebook post, he called her a martyr whose “name has been exalted, you’re free and Jerusalem is proud of you.”

In a separate post, Tra’ayra wrote that “death is a right and I demand the right to die.”

Relatives and friends said his Facebook posts had changed since March, when his cousin, Yousef Walid Tra'ayra was killed in March after carrying out a car ramming attack near Kiryat Arba, in which an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded.  

Tra'ayra's mother said that her son had been carrying a picture of his cousin on him. She said she never expected her son "would carry out a terror attack in order to be a shahid (martyr) and join the many shahids before him."

According to Palestinian reports, after the attack soldiers searched Tra'ayra's home in Bani Na'im and arrested his father. The village has been sealed off by the Israeli army since the morning. Meanwhile, Israel has revoked hundreds of permits belonging to his relatives, a common practice after attacks.