Tel Aviv Bus Driver Wounded in Terror Stabbing Called Friend: ‘Take Care of My Kids If I Die’
by Dave Bender
Before he passed out from stab wounds while struggling to foil a Palestinian terrorist, Dan bus company driver Herzl Biton, 40, called a buddy and asked him to look after his children in the event that he succumbed to his injuries, Israel’s Ch. 2 News reported Wednesday.
“Herzl called me and said, ‘A terrorist boarded my bus and is stabbing people,'” Dan traffic division chief, Dan Katzis said, recalling the traumatic call he received at about 07:30 am.
“[Biton] said, ‘I’m going to die, if I die – take care of my children.'”
Biton, who is currently hospitalized in serious but stable condition, was the first of 20 people who were wounded – three of them seriously – when 23-year-old Tulkarm resident Hamza Matrouk boarded the bus and began his murderous rush-hour spree.
“He tried to resist and pepper-sprayed the terrorist,” Biton’s niece, Heli Sosen said, later, at the hospital. “I’m really shaking, it is shocking. He’s in bad shape and was taken into surgery.”
Biton managed to hit the door-open button before he passed out from loss of blood, allowing some of the passengers to escape to safety, but also giving Matrouk the chance to flee and stab a woman pedestrian as he ran off.
A squad of Israel Prison Service officers transferring prisoners to the city courthouse happened to be driving behind the bus in the rush-hour traffic and noticed it zig-zagging as Biton tussled with the terrorist.
The officers immediately understood what was happening from the screams of the fleeing passengers, and chased after the attacker. They soon cornered him in an alley and shot him in the calf to immobilize him.
Bat Yam 8th-grader, Liel Suissa, who was on the bus told Army radio, “I heard people screaming on the bus, and I saw a man with a knife start to stab people.
“We all ran off the bus and then he came at us,” said Suissa, who then bravely tried to fight the terrorist.
“I threw my book bag at him, and then the driver hit the brakes, knocking [the terrorist] off his feet.
“The driver did not open the doors, so I elbowed the window and it broke and he scrambled out; then the driver opened the doors and everyone got off,” Suissa said, describing the melee.
But even as they fled to safety, the terrorist ran after them with the knife in his hand.
“I went behind some cars and hid and ran away,” he said, noting that he saw the officers run by as they chased down the terrorist. Suissa, who sustained minor injuries from the broken glass, was treated at the hospital and later released.
Passenger Ilanit Laniado noted that, “Just before the Ma’ariv bridge, I heard screaming from the driver. At first I thought that some people were arguing, and suddenly I saw a huge knife. We ran back, started screaming and the terrorist chased us. I saw wounded people fleeing; it was terrible.”
Tel Aviv District Police chief Benzi Sau praised Biton’s courage in trying to fend off the terrorist, who had gotten on the bus two stops earlier, and timed his attack just as the bus traversed the short Ma’ariv Bridge overpass.
“It was a great response by the bus driver, who fought the attacker,” Sau said.