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Israel: Several killed in stabbing attack

March 22, 2022

At least four people died in the city of Beersheba when a man rammed his car into one person and stabbed several others. Police said the Arab assailant was shot dead by a civilian.

Policemen work at the scene of an attack in Beersheba
Officials called the rampage a possible terror attack with nationalist motivesImage: Tsafrir Abayov/AP/picture alliance

Israeli police said several people were killed in a suspected "terrorist attack" in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on Tuesday. 

Police said the attacker stabbed five people with a knife in the area of a shopping center and also hit one person with a car.

A spokesman for the ZAKA rescue service confirmed that the death toll had risen to four, after earlier reports indicated three had been killed.

Previously, the Magen David Adom ambulance service, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross, reported a man and two women were killed by the Arab assailant, and that at least three others were wounded, one critically.

Who is behind the attack?

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai told reporters that the incident was "an abominable killing
spree by a terrorist known to security services"

"It appeared to be a single terrorist who went on a stabbing spree," police spokesman Eli Levy said on Channel 13 TV. "A civilian took the initiative and shot and killed him."

According to the Israeli daily paper Haaretz, the assailant was a local Bedouin with Israeli citizenship. He was reportedly a supporter of the so-called "Islamic State" terrorist group and had served a prison sentence for membership of an armed group, local media said.

Bennett says shooting the assailant 'prevented further casualties'

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who is currently in Egypt for talks with Egyptian and UAE leaders, said Israeli security forces were exercising "maximum vigilance" in the wake of the attack. 

Bennett said those who shot the assailant "showed resourcefulness and courage and prevented further casualties."

"Security forces are on high alert. We will work hard against terrorists. We will pursue them as well and those who help them," he wrote on Twitter.  

Second stabbing reported this week

On Sunday, Israeli police said a "terrorist" stabbed and injured a police officer who was responding to an arson incident in Jerusalem.

In the past few months, several similar attacks were reported in the West Bank and the eastern part of Jerusalem — two territories that were captured by Israel in the 1967 war. 

Most of the alleged attacks have been carried out by individuals with no known links to armed groups. However, it is rare for such attacks to be committed by Arab citizens of Israel.

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, blamed the attack on Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

A spokesman for the group told a Hamas-controlled radio station that the "operation is a response to the policy of ethnic displacement practiced by Israel against our Palestinian people inside the occupied territories."

Meanwhile, Israel's Islamist Raam party — which backs Bennett's government and was widely supported by Bedouin voters in elections last year — denounced the attack. 

"The Raam party condemns the criminal attack in Beersheba and sends its condolences to the families of those killed," said a party statement posted on its leader's personal Facebook page.

The local council in Hura, a Bedouin community near Beersheba, also condemned the attack as "criminal and terrorist act."

fb,tj/dj (Reuters, dpa, AFP)