Man Wounded in Beit Shemesh Stabbing Attack

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The site of the stabbing attack in Bet Shemesh on Thursday morning, Oct. 22, 2015. Credit: Noam Moskowitz / Walla!News

A 27-year-old Jewish man was moderately wounded in a stabbing attack in Beit Shemesh on Thursday morning.

The Israel Police said the Beit Shemesh station received a report that two suspects had tried to board a school bus, but when civilians nearby yelled out at them, they got off. Police who were sent to the area located the suspects just as they started stabbing the young man near the bus stop on Yehezkel Hanavi Street in Beit Shemesh, and fired at them.

One of the assailants died of his gunshot wounds and the other was severely wounded, said Magen David Adom.

A Magen David Adom ambulance took the victim to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem.

Mahmoud Ghanimat and Makdad Heeh.Credit: Twitter / ShehabAgenc

An MDA medic who arrived at the site, Yishai Glick, said "A young Haredi man, aged about 18, was sitting fully conscious on the footpath, with several stab wounds to his upper body. Together with other [MDA] first responders, we gave him preliminary treatment on the site and evacuated him to hospital."

Palestinian sources identified the men as Mahmoud Ghanimat and Makdad Heeh, 20-year-olds from the village Tzurif, near Hebron. The two worked at a construction site in Beit Shemesh. Under the assailants' t-shirts, police found they were wearing a second t-shirt with the emblems of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. The Shin Bet security service said one was a Hamas activist and the other had been imprisoned from 2012 to 2014 after being apprehended with a knife in the area of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

A number of Beit Shemesh residents said they complained to the police about the two suspects wandering around the neighborhood about half an hour before the attack.  It seems the two men spent a bit of time searching for victims. Beit Shemesh mayor Moshe Abutbul the city's police station is at the opposite end of the town from the site of the attack,  so the time it took the police  patrol car to arrive was reasonable.  

The t-shirt with the emblems of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing. Credit: Police spokesman

A few minutes before the stabbing, a members of a neighborhood WhatsApp group started sending messages about two suspicious persons trying to board a school bus. A woman told them to get off the bus, and then they continued on and stabbed their victim.  

The neighborhood, Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimel, is experiencing a large wave of construction and many Palestinians work there daily. After the attack, residents demanded to keep the Palestinian workers out of the neighborhood, but the municipality made it clear in a meeting at city hall that this was not possible. The police and the city said they would increase enforcement of the law regarding the Palestinian workers in the city.   

The investigation into the attack will include determining how the two reached Beit Shemesh from the area of the southern Hebron hills, which is considered a prime place where Palestinians illegally enter Israel.  Because of various breaks in the fence in the area, many Palestinians enter Israel there daily.  The regional council has complained about this for a long time, and the daily transit of Palestinians into Israel there is well-known to the security forces, but nothing has been done.  Defense sources estimate that about 34,000 Palestinians illegally enter Israel every day through the various breaks I the fence, not only in the Hebron area.

Shortly after midnight, a Jewish man was shot to death after he was suspected of being a terrorist and, according to testimony, tried to snatch a weapon from an Israel Defense Forces soldier. The IDF Spokesman's Unit said it was a soldier that fired at the man, and that "the security services are investigating details of the incident."

Wednesday was a tense day in the Palestinian territories.

In the West Bank, a female soldier was severely wounded in a stabbing attack and five soldiers were wounded – two moderately and the rest lightly – in a car ramming. In a separate incident, the details of which are not yet clear, a policeman was lightly wounded when he was hit by a vehicle.

In the early evening, a rocket fired from Gaza fell in an open area on the Israeli side of the border, causing no injuries or damage. Around the same time dozens of Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops near Bureij in central Gaza. 

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