Selfie Sticks to Umbrellas: Israelis Use Unconventional Weapons to Fight Attackers

When confronted with an attack, bystanders are left to subdue the assailant using whatever objects are handy until police can reach the scene.

Allison Kaplan Sommer

In the unprecedented wave of individual attacks that swept across Israel Tuesday, many in places that have not experienced terror in decades, unarmed citizens have been forced onto the front lines with improvised weapons.

When confronted with attacks, bystanders are responsible for subduing a terrorist using whatever objects are handy until police can reach the scene. And while sales of pepper spray in Israel have soared in recent weeks, it has not always been easily accessible when attacks have occurred.

Hence, the improvisation. In Ra’anana, a real estate agent, Michael Rehavi, grabbed an umbrella that was propped in a corner of his office as he ran out after hearing the screams of the victim of the knife attack on the street steps away.

Using his umbrella as a baton, he said, he hit the terrorist repeatedly with it and “neutralized” him with it, he said during which time it “pretty much broke apart and disintegrated” he said.

In Jerusalem, a bystander at the Malkhei Yisrael Street attack told a television reporter that he ran outside to take on a terrorist with an item typically used for self-glorification, not self-defense — a selfie stick.

On Monday, a more typically aggressive weapon was used to overpower a man on a bus who had taken a rifle from a soldier. A man named Yair Ben-Shabat told reporters later that he jumped onto the bus, hit the attacker with the nunchaku he carried for self-defense and recovered the soldier’s gun. Ben-Shabat’s story, and his photograph, nunchaku held triumphantly up in the air, spread rapidly on social media and Israeli news websites.

גיבור הערב:יאיר בן שבת, נכנס לאוטובוס בו דקר המחבל את החייל בכניסה לעיר, היכה אותו עם נונצ'קו עד שחוסל ע"י השוטרים pic.twitter.com/HPRPeAbDkh