'I prayed the bullet would hit': Hero recounts heart-pounding encounter with Tel Aviv attacker

Armed civilian says initially thought car ramming was a traffic accident until terrorist started chasing bystanders with a knife; 'You're a hero,' praises police chief Shabtai

Liran Levi, Yael Ciechanover |Updated:
Armed civilian neutralizes attacker in Tel Aviv

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai praised a civilian who neutralized a terrorist that wounded nine people in a combined ramming and stabbing attack Tuesday afternoon attack in Tel Aviv, saying "You're a hero, you saved lives. You have my support. You managed to thwart the attack with great courage and prevent the assailant from carrying out a massacre.”
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Video footage captured at the scene depicts the civilian firing at the assailant and disarming him by kicking the knife out of his hand. The civilian then proceeds to fire another shot at the attacker as he is seen struggling to get back on his feet.
4 View gallery
המפכ״ל מודה ומשבח את האזרח שניטרל את המחבל בפיגוע ברמת החייל בתל אביב
המפכ״ל מודה ומשבח את האזרח שניטרל את המחבל בפיגוע ברמת החייל בתל אביב
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai shakes hands with the armed civilian who neutralized the terrorist in Tel Aviv
(Photo: Israel Police)
The civilian replied, "My legs were shaking, I prayed the bullet would hit because if not, I would be dead."
He added that he had parked his motorcycle behind the bus stop where the terrorist crashed his car, believing it was a traffic accident. According to him, "After he crashed into the stop, he climbed out and stabbed someone. I thought maybe it was a bad case of road rage, but then he left that person and started chasing others. I pulled out my gun and closed in on him."
"He's a tall and intimidating man, I told myself he could kill ten people, if not more," added the civilian who neutralized the terrorist. "I shot at him twice, he's a stocky man and there was an elderly person next to him. I fired two more shots at him, and then he fell. Everything happened quickly."
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נטרול המחבל זירת פיגוע הדריסה בנאות אפקה, תל אביב
נטרול המחבל זירת פיגוע הדריסה בנאות אפקה, תל אביב
Armed civilian shoots Tel Aviv attacker
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זירת הפיגוע בתל אביב
זירת הפיגוע בתל אביב
The assailant's car at the scene of the attack
(Photo: EPA/Abir Sultan)
Addressing the press at the scene of the attack, Shabtai said that the terrorist was driving against traffic at high speed and crashed into a bus stop, sending several people flying in the air. He then proceeded to climb out of the car window and chase down onlookers while brandishing a knife until he was shot by the armed biker.
Nine people were wounded in the attack - three of them were listed in serious condition and two others were moderately wounded while four victims suffered minor injuries.
In addition, Shabtai 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 in the Jenin refugee camp.
4 View gallery
מפכ"ל המשטרה יעקב שבתאי בזירת הפיגוע בנאות אפקה
מפכ"ל המשטרה יעקב שבתאי בזירת הפיגוע בנאות אפקה
Shabtai at the scene of the attack in Tel Aviv
(Photo: Shaul Golan)
The Jenin Brigade, which encompasses all the West Bank city’s armed terrorist factions, celebrated the attack as a retaliation for the ongoing Israel action there.
“We call on the masses to declare a day of joy and take to the streets and public intersections to rejoice in this divine vengeance against occupied Tel Aviv, which healed our hearts in response to the brutal aggression of the occupation in the Jenin camp, and to avenge the blood of the pure martyrs,” the terrorist collective said in a statement.
Senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri on Monday told Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen in response to the operation in Jenin that "the resistance has the potential to strike any place, whether in the southern West Bank or within Israel."
Another senior Hamas official, Moushir Masri, said during a demonstration in support of Jenin held in the Gaza Strip, "The security of Tel Aviv depends on the security of Jenin."
First published: 17:08, 07.04.23
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