A Palestinian man stabbed and wounded up to a dozen Israelis as he rampaged through a bus in central Tel Aviv during the Wednesday morning rush hour and then fled through nearby streets, the police said. He was shot and wounded by security forces as he tried to escape.
It was unclear whether all the stabbings took place on the bus. At least 15 Israelis were hospitalized, including several who were reported to be in serious condition. The assailant, a Palestinian man in his early 20s from the West Bank city of Tulkarm, was being treated in a hospital and questioned, the police said.
The episode broke a period of relative calm that followed a spate of attacks against Israelis in October and November in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank that were carried out by Palestinians armed with knives, cleavers and guns, or using vehicles as weapons.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel blamed the Palestinian leadership for creating an atmosphere that led to Wednesday’s attack, saying in a statement that it was “the direct result of the poisonous incitement being disseminated by the Palestinian Authority against the Jews and their state.”
“This same terrorism is trying to attack us in Paris, Brussels and everywhere,” he continued.
The assailant, identified by the police as Hamza Muhammad Hassan Matrouk, 23, boarded a bus in Tel Aviv around 7:30 a.m. and traveled several stops as more passengers boarded. He first attacked the driver, who resisted, said Yehuda Dahan, the district police chief. The man then stabbed a number of passengers before they managed to open the doors of the bus and escape.
As the assailant ran off, armed personnel from Israel’s prison service who happened to be in the vicinity chased and shot him. A member of the prison service team told reporters that they were on a routine trip to the courts when they noticed the bus in front of them zigzagging and then stopping at a green traffic light. They realized something was happening, he said, as passengers began disembarking from the bus, screaming.
“First we fired in the air, but he didn’t stop,” the head of the prison security team, who was not identified, said to the Israeli news media, referring to the assailant. “Then we shot him in the legs,” he said, adding that the man did not say anything.