At least nine people were wounded in a combined stabbing and car-ramming attack in Tel Aviv, the police said on Tuesday. The suspected attacker was shot and neutralized.
According to the police, the vehicle veered onto a sidewalk and bicycle lane, striking pedestrians. The terrorist then exited the car and charged at passersby with a knife before being shot dead by an armed civilian.
Video footage captured at the scene depicts the civilian firing at the assailant as he was lying on the floor, subsequently disarming him by kicking the knife out of his hand. The civilian then proceeds to fire another shot at the assailant as he was seen moving.
Security camera footage shows the terrorist crashing his car into a bus stop, sending people flying in the air. He then proceeds to climb out of the car window and chase down onlookers while brandishing a knife.
The wounded were transported to Sourasky Medical in Tel Aviv, Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva and Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba. Three of them were listed in serious condition and two others were moderately wounded while four victims suffered minor injuries.
Sourasky Medical Center stated that a "small mass casualty incident" had been declared. The Shin Bet security agency is also involved in the investigation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is receiving ongoing updates on the incident from his military secretary and monitoring the developments.
The Shin Bet security agency identified the attacker as Abed al-Wahab Khalila, 20, from the southern West Bank town of as-Samu, near Hebron. According to the agency, he did not have an entry permit to Israel.
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai arrived at the scene for a situation assessment and commended the civilian who “managed to thwart the attack with great courage and prevent the assailant from carrying out a massacre.”
He also urged the public to remain vigilant. "We anticipated that as a result of the recent events in Judea and Samaria, motivation and potential for attacks would increase," he said using the biblical name for the West Bank where Israeli security forces were engaged in a massive counterterrorism operation.
Tel Aviv District Police Commander Superintendent Ami Eshed told Ynet that the attacker was believed to have acted alone.
“We are conducting additional operations both at the scene and in the surrounding area to determine if he arrived with accomplices," Eshed said. "Large police forces are being deployed here to provide personal security to the civilians. This is a difficult event, but at the moment, the situation is stable."
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir also arrived at the scene of the attack where he was met with angry cries from the crowd, including "Shame on you" and "Go home." Ben-Gvir fired back, saying, "The left is also allowed to shout a bit," and as the shouting persisted, he retorted, "Leftists."
Earlier, Ben-Gvir, a staunch supporter of gun rights, praised the civilian who shot the terrorist and stated, "This neutralization once again proves the importance and effectiveness of armed civilians. I call upon the public who is eligible - arm yourselves."
He added, "Our battle in Jenin is our battle in Tel Aviv. Facing a bloodthirsty enemy who does not differentiate between right and left, religious and secular, adult and child, man or woman. Every Jew is a target for those murderers, and we will fight them with a firm hand."
Palestinian terrorist group Hamas welcomed the attack, which it called the "first response to the crimes of the occupation against our people in Jenin," in reference to Israel's ongoing counterterrorism operation in the West Bank refugee camp. Hamas spokesperson Hazem Kassam dubbed the attack a "heroic act."
Senior Hamas officials expressed their support of Jenin during a mass demonstration in the Gaza Strip Monday night, stating that "Tel Aviv's security is dependent on Jenin's security." However, Hamas did not take responsibility for the attack.
First published: 13:33, 07.04.23