The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence escalated dramatically Wednesday, with attacks throughout Israel and the West Bank in which five Israelis were wounded.
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For the first time since the current wave of violence began, the attacks extended beyond Jerusalem and the West Bank, with stabbings in both the central Israeli town of Petah Tikva and the southern town of Kiryat Gat. Altogether, there were three stabbings and one attempted stabbing Wednesday, in addition to a number of other incidents.
Dozens of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the West Bank.
The most serious incident occurred in Kiryat Gat Wednesday afternoon, when a Palestinian man stabbed a soldier and grabbed his rifle before fleeing into a nearby apartment building. He entered an apartment whose door was unlocked, and was later shot dead by police officers.
The incident occurred at about 1:30 P.M., as the soldier was getting off a bus from Be’er Sheva. The assailant stabbed the soldier and sprayed him with tear gas. The soldier and another man then grappled with the terrorist, and during the fight, the soldier dropped his gun.
The terrorist grabbed it and fled into a nearby apartment building, where he broke into a fourth-floor apartment.
Liat Ohana had just returned from the grocery store, and before she had a chance to lock the door the attacker shoved it open with the soldier’s gun, ran inside and grabbed her by her shirt, she later related.
“He entered the kitchen to look for a knife and tried to stab me,” she told Israel’s Walla! news website. “He fought with me, and I fought back ... I could see my end approaching.”
Ohana and her mother, who was also in the apartment, eventually managed to escape.
M., one of the security personnel who rushed to the scene, said that when he and his colleagues arrived, they saw the door open and a head peep out. “I asked who he was and he answered, in a heavy accent, ‘Get out of here.’”
One of his colleagues noticed the man’s gun and yelled, “He has a gun!” The terrorist then slammed the door, but opened it a few minutes later and stuck his gun out, at which point M. shot him.
The soldier who was stabbed in the initial attack suffered mild injuries, as did the civilian who tried to help him the assailant. The terrorist was identified as Amjad Jundi, 20, from Yatta, a town near Hebron; he had entered Israel without authorization.
In Petah Tikva Wednesday evening, a Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli man outside a large shopping mall. The attacker was overpowered by civilians at the scene before being arrested by police, who arrived within minutes.
The victim, in his mid-20s, suffered superficial stab wounds in the chest. He was treated at the scene before being taken to Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Hospital, where he was described as being in good condition.
Police named the attacker as Tamer Yunis Ahmed Vareidat, 25, from Daheira, near Hebron, and said that he, too, had entered Israel illegally. He came to the mall by bus and immediately started attacking passersby, starting with the victim, who happened to be closest to him. Police said he has no previous record.
Earlier Wednesday, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman stabbed a Jewish man in Jerusalem’s Old City. The victim, a man of about 35 who asked to be identified only by his first name, Daniel, suffered knife wounds to his head and back. Nevertheless, he managed to draw his weapon and shoot the assailant.
“I acted as I was trained to do as an officer in the paratroops,” he said.
The woman managed to keep running even after she was shot, but was soon caught by the police and rushed to hospital in serious condition. The man, whose injuries were moderate, was rushed to hospital as well.
Palestinians identified the assailant as Shuruk Dawiyat, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher. A member of her extended family once carried out a terror attack in Jerusalem using a bulldozer. But relatives claimed she stabbed Daniel due to a quarrel, not because she wanted to carry out a terrorist attack.
Dawiyat’s attack took place on Hagai Street, close to where Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Bennett were stabbed to death by a Palestinian on Saturday.
Wednesday evening, police in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor averted a fourth stabbing when they approached a Palestinian teen who struck them as suspicious. The boy, 15, pulled a knife and tried to stab them, according to Inspector Dror Mizrachi, deputy commander of the Border Police unit in Jerusalem. The police promptly arrested him.
Shortly after that, police were involved in another incident at the Al-Zayim checkpoint near Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus. The policemen became suspicious of a car approaching from the direction of the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim and opened fire at it, wounding the driver, who was evacuated to the hospital in moderate condition. They also hit another car, whose occupants suffered from shock.
Earlier in the day, an Israeli woman from the settlement of Tekoa sustained light wounds when Palestinians threw stones at her car as she was driving to Jerusalem. The woman, 38, said the Palestinians tried to drag her from the car and lynch her, but she escaped, apparently after IDF soldiers arrived and fired in the air. The stones broke the car’s windshield.
Palestinian sources said two Palestinians were wounded in subsequent clashes between the stone throwers and Israelis. But it’s not clear whether the Israelis in question were IDF soldiers or settlers who came to the scene.
Wednesday evening, police arrested two minors who threw stones at a bus in Jaffa. The stones damaged the bus but caused no injuries.
Late Tuesday night, Molotov cocktails were thrown at Route 6, a major north-south highway, near the Israeli Arab town of Tira. The firebombs caused no injuries or damage. Police are investigating the incident.
That same night, border police found 15 firebombs ready for use on the roof of a house in East Jerusalem’s A-Tur neighborhood. The previous day, police had found firebombs on the roof of a mosque in the same neighborhood.
Palestinians also clashed with soldiers at several locations in the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 148 Palestinians were injured — five by live fire, 49 by sponge-tipped bullets, three by shrapnel and the rest by smoke inhalation. Inter alia, clashes occurred near the settlement of Beit El, east of Ramallah and in the vicinity of Jericho.
Wednesday's incidents were just the latest in a string of attacks over the last week, including the drive-by shooting that killed Eitam and Naama Henkin in the West Bank and the stabbing deaths of Lavi and Bennett in Jerusalem.