NETANYA – Police have released the names of the four victims of the Netanya terror attack.
Yulia Witstein, 31, of Netanya, Nofer Horowitz, 16, of Tel Aviv, Rachel Ben-Abu, 16, of Tel Aviv, and Anya Lifshitz, 50, of Netanya.
In total, more than 90 people were wounded in the attack. 41remain hospitalized.
Following the attack, a foreign language information hotline was established. The number is: 12-55-08-1010
Exclusive video footage from the scene of the attack
Palestinian Islamic Jihad
claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber as Ahmed Abu-Khalil from the Tulkarem-area village of Atil.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority
officially condemned the attack as action "against the Palestinian nation, its interests and an attack on its security."
Several cars were badly damaged by the blast, with plastic and metal pieces flying in all directions, and windows at the entrance to the mall were blown to bits.
Police sappers dispatched to the scene examined the area and the bomber’s body and removed people from the scene for fear of additional explosions.
Later, police closed off all entrances to and exits from the city in a bid to capture the person who drove the bomber to the scene of the attack.
The explosion was reported in the area at about 6:35 p.m., with rescue forces arriving at the scene within minutes.
Police declare high alert across country
Sharon Region Police Commander Menashe Arviv said an initial investigation revealed the explosive belt detonated by the terrorist weighed about 10 kilograms (22 pounds.) The belt also contained nails and small iron balls.
Arviv estimated the bomber detonated the charge prematurely after noticing the large-scale police deployment ordered in Netanya in light of a festival that took place in the city, as well as the Maccabiah games.
Following the bombing, police declared a high state of alert across the nation.
According to Netanya Fire Department Commander Yisachar Tuami the bomber detonated himself about 25 meters (approximately 80 feet) from the mall's entrance, as he was crossing the street.
Tuami also said the bomber may have planned to target a parade in the area earlier in the evening and estimated the event.
'Body parts were flying'
Paramedic Rafi Sheva, who resides near the mall, said he heard the blast and went to the scene immediately.
“I saw two bodies around and another body was that of the terrorist,” he said. “I started to treat those seriously injured. The wounded were in panic and screaming in pain. Others were lying on the road in a state of shock,” he said.
Arik Twik, who was standing about 20 meters (approximately 70 feet) away from the mall’s entrance said he saw a suspicious person, who a mall security guard also spotted.
“The terrorist apparently realized he’d been identified, stood in the middle of the crosswalk right next to four young girls, French tourists apparently, and then blew up,” he said. “It was a big mess.”
Netanya resident Pazit told Ynet: “My mom was right at the mall’s entrance. She turned around and was about to leave when the explosion was heard. She said body parts were flying…the doors exploded from the blast. She sounded very frightened.”
- Laniado hospital: 125-5191
- Hillel Yaffe hospital: 125-5166
- Meir hospital: 125-5199
- Ali Waked, Doron Sheffer and Ahiya Raved also contributed to the story