Five people were killed in terror attacks in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion on Thursday, including three Israelis, a yeshivah student from the United States and a Palestinian.
The first was a stabbing attack during Minchah at a minyan in the Panorama building on Ben Tzvi Street in southern Tel Aviv. Two people were killed and another wounded in the stabbings. The injured man, in his 50s, was taken to Ichilov hospital in moderate condition.
One man, Aharon Yasiev, 32, Hy”d, was pronounced dead on the scene after efforts to resuscitate him failed. A second victim, Reuven Aviram, Hy”d, succumbed to his wounds later at Ichiliv hospital.
Yasiev, of Cholon, was the father of three children, the youngest of whom is two months old. Aviram, 51, was from Ramla.
Eyewitness Shimon Vaknin told The Jerusalem Post that davening had just started when a man covered in blood fell on a number of mispallelim. Vaknin said he and the other mispallelim — around 15 to 20 — pushed the terrorist outside and held the door shut while he shouted in Arabic, trying to force his way back in. Others tried to treat the wounded man until paramedics arrived.
Sigal Pinchas said that she was almost a victim. She had gone to her office to get her keys to her car which was parked just outside the building. She walked in and heard screaming and looked out of the blinds of the office window to see the attacker stabbing a victim repeatedly.
“I was supposed to be right next to the car,” she said.
The terrorist was pursued by civilians, tackled and held until police arrived to arrest him.
The knife-wielding attacker was identified as a 36-year-old Palestinian from the village of Dura near Chevron. He was a legal worker at a nearby restaurant and had no prior criminal record, according to initial reports.
Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, who responded, noted that the attack took place just a day after the first anniversary of the massacre in Har Nof.
“Just yesterday we marked one year since the despicable massacre at a beis knesses in the Har Nof neighborhood, a year in which terror has hit us without mercy — and now another despicable attack has occurred, this time at a synagogue in Tel Aviv,” Ben-Dahan said.
“Terror is terror, and it doesn’t matter where it occurs,” he continued, hinting at the recent terrorist attacks in Europe. In Israel’s case “its roots are the incitement from the Palestinian leadership which encourages [violence].
The second deadly attack on Thursday was a shooting at two locations in Gush Etzion.
The victims included an 18-year-old American citizen, a 50-year-old Israeli and a Palestinian in his forties. Several others were also wounded.
The American citizen, Ezra Schwartz, of Sharon, Massachusetts, was studying at a yeshivah in Beit Shemesh.
The student had come, with five other foreign students, to distribute food to soldiers in Gush Etzion.
The five other students were lightly wounded and were admitted to Shaare Zedek Hospital in Yerushalayim for treatment.
The students are in Israel as participants in a program in which they study in yeshivah during the day and do volunteer work in the evenings.
The 50-year-old man was identified as Yaakov Don, Hy”d, a resident of Alon Shvut and a father of four.
The Palestinian who was killed was identified as Shadi Arafa.
According to news reports, a lone terrorist arrived in his car at the road leading from Alon Shvut to Gush Etzion junction. Encountering a traffic jam, he positioned himself and then opened fire at cars stuck in traffic.
The shooting spree ended when he hit another car. Security forces wounded the terrorist and took him into custody. He was identified by Palestinian sources as Abed al Basset Harub from Dir Samat near Chevron.
Yuval Lasri, who subdued the terrorist, said: “I stood in the traffic jam and heard gunfire. The terrorist rammed a car behind me. I got out of my car, pushed his gun away and threw him on the ground. I didn’t shoot at him because I wasn’t sure that he was the terrorist, but then I saw the gun next to him and understood that he was.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted to the attack saying, “The murderous terror has struck Gush Etzion and Tel Aviv. My heart is with the families of the murdered and I send my wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded.
“Whoever condemned the attacks in France needs to condemn the attacks in Israel. It’s the same terror. Whoever does not do this is a hypocrite and blind,” the prime minister concluded.
Two stabbing attempts earlier on Thursday were thwarted. In Chevron, an Arab teen was arrested by soldiers near Me’aras Hamachpelah, after he approached them with a concealed knife.
Earlier in Gush Etzion, three Arab women carrying knives were detained after attempting to infiltrate an army base.
Thursday’s incidents raise the number of Israelis killed in the current wave of terror to 16.