The attacker was arrested after a number of police officers managed to apprehend him. He was later identified as 57-year-old Jamil Tamimi from the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud in eastern Jerusalem.
The Shin Bet reported that Tamimi has a history of mental problems, saying he attempted to commit suicide this year by swallowing a razor blade while in psychiatric hospital, from which he was recently released. In 2011, he was convicted of sexually assaulting his daughter.
Tamimi was transferred to the Jerusalem Police Investigation Unit, which is interrogating his four sons.
First responders arrived at the scene to find the woman lying on the ground unconscious after having suffered multiple stab wounds.
EMTs carried out first aid emergency treatment on the victim, before she was hurriedly taken to the Hadassah Har Hatzofim Medical Center in the capital.
While her condition was originally described as critical, she was pronounced dead shortly after.
In addition, medical teams provided treatment to a 30-year-old pregnant woman who sustained light injuries as the light rail abruptly came to a halt.
A 50-year-old man also suffered light wounds in his leg and chest while trying to escape from the chaos.
“This is another incident of many in which a Palestinian suffering from mental health or personal issues has chosen to carry out an attack as a way out of his problems,” the Shin Bet statement said.
Jerusalem Police Commander Yoram Halevi confirmed that “The terrorist is mentally unstable.”
An off-duty policeman puts an end to the attack
An early interrogation of the attack revealed that Tamimi boarded the light train at the Nablus Gate station, riding the train until IDF Square. Noticing a young woman standing next to him, he pulled out a knife and began stabbing her repeatedly.
An off-duty policeman from the Jerusalem police who was with his family at the time pulled the emergency brake on the train and neutralized the attacker while removing the knife. A civilian who was nearby aided the officer.
At this point the train stopped, the doors were opened and the police force, which was deployed as part of the increased preparations in the city, entered the car and arrested Tamimi and evacuated the other passengers.
"I went on the light rail with my family, and I heard shouts of 'attack, attack,'" said the office who managed to stop Tamimi. "I immediately went over, pulled on the handbrake, ran to the scene of the event, attacked the terrorist and took control of him, so he would not continue to harm any innocent people.
"As a person who has served for years in the Jerusalem Police, I know there is heightened sensitivity here, especially during the holidays. I am constantly alert, even when I am not on duty as a police officer. As soon as I recognized that this was a terrorist attack, I left my family and neutralized the terrorist."
The attack comes during the holiday of Passover, a period during which security forces have ramped up their level of caution and alertness in anticipation of renewed efforts by terrorists to rock the recent period of comparative stability.
Last month, the head of the Shin Bet warned during a Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting that “We are now approaching the festival of Passover. There is no doubt that the terror infrastructure, especially Hamas, will try to incite and carry out attacks."
President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement that he is "filled with sadness" over the violence and that Israel's "thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim."
He said "this week thousands have come through the ancient gates of Jerusalem, to celebrate the feasts of Passover and Easter throughout the city—while the security forces work to ensure the safety of the dear residents and visitors to the city. And so we will continue to do," he said. "Terror can never overcome us. Terror will never destroy our lives here."
In an effort to prevent the infiltration of any terrorists seeking to strike during the 7-day Passover holiday, a general closure was imposed on Monday at midnight on the West Bank and is set to continue until midnight this Monday at the conclusion of the festival.
The last terror attack to have taken place on the light rail was in November 2015 when two Palestinians aged 11 and 14 stabbed a security guard in the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood.
(Translated and edited by Alexander J. Apfel)