Palestinian Assailant Kills 3 Israelis in West Bank
JERUSALEM — A Palestinian assailant stabbed several civilians in an Israeli-controlled industrial zone in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, then fled by car and continued his deadly rampage along a highway, where he hit another person with the vehicle. Three Israelis were killed and several more were severely wounded at various points along the assailant’s path, according to the Israeli ambulance service.
The attack began at about 9:30 a.m. and ended when the assailant was fatally shot by a soldier, the Israeli military said.
Israel is to swear in a new Parliament later on Tuesday, after the Nov. 1 election, and the prime minister-designate, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been working to put together a right-wing and religious coalition government with the help of far-right parties that have pledged to act more aggressively to protect Israelis.
The attack also occurred on the anniversary of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s symbolic proclamation from exile in 1988 of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. That state has never materialized.
The assailant on Tuesday arrived at the entrance gate of the industrial zone belonging to the Jewish settlement of Ariel and stabbed civilians in the area, then moved on to a nearby gas station, where he stabbed additional civilians, the Israeli military said.
After fleeing the gas station in a stolen car, the assailant then carried out what the military described as a deliberate car crash on Route 5, a nearby highway, and rammed into another civilian before taking off again on foot.
The ambulance service, Magen David Adom, confirmed the deaths of two people who had been stabbed near the gas station and the death of another man who had been hit by the assailant’s car on Route 5. The emergency service said that it had also transported to the hospital five more people who had been stabbed in the industrial area and another man who had been stabbed on the highway.
The Palestinian official news agency, Wafa, identified the dead assailant as Muhammad Murad Sami Suf, 18, from the Palestinian village of Hares, near Ariel. Israeli news media reported that he had a permit to work in the settlement industrial zone.
Odelia Shahaf, an Israeli nurse and medic, told Kan, Israel’s public radio, that she was on her way to work along Route 5 when she saw what appeared to be a road accident.
“I saw a wounded person on the road and immediately approached him, but as I started treatment, I heard people yelling ‘terrorist, terrorist,’ and I saw a man with a knife running toward us. We started to run away from there, and people pulled out their pistols,” she said, adding that the assailant had managed to stab another man before he had been shot.
Israel has long presented the Ariel industrial zone as a symbol of coexistence where Israeli and Palestinian managers and employees work side by side, but attacks have taken place there in the past.
In 2018, a Palestinian gunman fatally shot two of his Israeli co-workers in an Israeli-run factory at the site and injured a third.
This year has proved the deadliest in the West Bank since 2015. Wafa, citing the Palestinian Health Ministry, said that more than 140 Palestinians had been killed in the West Bank since the beginning of 2022. The Israeli authorities say that many of them were killed while carrying out or attempting to carry out attacks against Israelis or in clashes that broke out during Israeli arrest raids.
Tensions rose after a wave of Arab attacks, mainly in cities inside Israel, killed 19 Israelis and foreigners between March and May. In response, the Israeli Army began an operation in the northern West Bank, carrying out arrest raids on a nearly daily basis, impeding Palestinian movement in the area and arresting hundreds of Palestinians.
During the Israeli election campaign, right-wing politicians denounced what they described as an erosion of personal security and a loss of Israeli governance.
Yair Lapid, the departing centrist prime minister, said after the attack on Tuesday, “We are relentlessly fighting terrorism with the full might” of the Israeli military, the internal security agency and other security forces. “Recently, we have succeeded in dismantling extensive terrorist infrastructure and planning,” he said, “but we must fight this war every day anew.”
Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, who is making a comeback after being ousted from office last year, said that he was “praying for the injured” and gave his support to the security services.
Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party who is eyeing a key role in Mr. Netanyahu’s emerging coalition, wrote on Twitter: “Already on our new Parliament’s first day we receive a painful reminder of the most important and urgent topic on the table. We must restore security for all the citizens of Israel and restore the deterrence that has been eroded.”
No Palestinian organization immediately took responsibility for the attack, but a spokesman for Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, Tarek Izz al-Din, told an Islamic Jihad-linked television channel that his organization welcomed what he called the “heroic attack.” He said that it came as a response to the Israeli election results and to Israeli politicians’ calls to take firmer action against the Palestinians, Kan radio reported.
Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting from Rehovot, Israel; and Myra Noveck from Jerusalem.