Sudanese National Wounds Israeli Soldier in Stabbing Attack

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An Israeli soldier is wheeled through a hospital in Ashkelon, Israel, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.
An Israeli soldier is wheeled through a hospital in Ashkelon, Israel, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Credit: AP

An Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in a stabbing attack in the southern city of Ashkelon on Sunday morning in an attack allegedly conducted by a foreign national. 

The soldier sustained a light wound to the upper body, and was taken to the Barzilai Medical Center in the city for treatment.

The alleged assailant, identified as Kamel Hassan, a 32-year-old Sudanese national residing in Ashkelon, was shot and wounded at the scene of the attack, and later succumbed to his wounds. Hassan had stayed in the Holot detention center in the Negev in April 2014 for a month.

"A 20-year-old youth was sitting on a bench, fully conscious, with a few stab wounds to his upper body," recounted Magen David Adom paramedic Ariel Flaut, who treated the soldier. "We got him on to the ambulance and gave him medical treatment on the way to hospital. His condition was determined to be light, and he conversed with us on the way."

After the stabbing, a soldier who noticed the incident took the victim's weapon and began chasing after the suspect. He managed to get near the suspect and shot him. Israeli Police forces that arrived at the scene began searching the area for other suspects.

According to the police, the attack seems to have been politically motivated, as the victim and the suspect were not acquainted and did not exchange words before the attack. 

Mutasim Ali, a leader of asylum seekers in Israel who is himself from Sudan, condemned the attack. "This is very serious if it's someone from our community.  We roundly condemn it. It's not representative," he said. "Our community will never constitute a danger to the State of Israel or to Israelis," he added.

Several other asylum seekers from Sudan who are living in Ashkelon told Haaretz they do not know the suspected assailant. They said they found it hard to believe that he was of Sudanese origin as reported, and if it was true, they suggested that his background and mental stability be looked into.

As of the end of 2015, there were 8,353 Sudanese nationals in Israel, the Population and Immigration Authority reported, meaning that they constitute about 19 percent of all asylum seekers in the country. Most of the Sudanese in Israel are Arabic-speaking Muslims.

Many are refugees from Sudan's Darfur region, where the army and government militias have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people.

Israel does not expel Sudanese nationals and provides them with temporary resident visas. The Israeli government has stated in court that its policy of not expelling Sudanese asylum seekers was the result of the lack of diplomatic relations with Sudan.

With the opening of the Holot refugee detention center in the south of Israel in December 2013, the Population and Immigration Authority has summoned mostly Sudanese nationals in Israel to the isolated center in the Negev, prompting 3,676 of them to leave the country in 2014 and another 600 to leave last year. The Sudanese who left over the two-year period represented about a third of all Sudanese in the country.

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