2 Dead, Mother and Baby Wounded in Jerusalem Terror Stabbing Attack
A Palestinian on a stabbing spree in the Old City of Jerusalem Saturday evening killed two men and wounded a woman and a baby, while they were on their way home to the Jewish Quarter from holiday prayers at the Western Wall, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
The report emerged shortly after the incident, during which the terrorist was shot and killed by Israeli security forces.
Three of the victims were members of the same family. The father, 22-year-old Aharon Banita — an IDF soldier from Beitar Illit — was pronounced dead at the hospital. His wife, Adelle, sustained multiple stab wounds to her upper body, and is in critical condition at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. The couple’s two-year-old son, who suffered a stab wound to his leg, was described as “lightly injured.”
The couple’s other child, an infant daughter, emerged unscathed.
The fourth victim of the attack, 41-year-old Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, a father-of-seven, was also pronounced dead.
According to a report in Ynet, witnesses said that Lavi, a rabbi at Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in the Old City and for the IDF reserves, heard the commotion from his home near the site of the attack, and rushed out with his gun to try and intervene. But the terrorist stabbed him and took his weapon.
The terrorist was identified as Muhanad Shafeq Halabi, 19, from al-Bireh, near Ramallah. Chief of Israel Police Moshe Edri told reporters on the scene that Halabi apparently acted alone, and that he was unknown to security forces.
In a post on his Facebook page, however, Halabi talked about the Al-Aqsa Mosque and said that the “intifada is here.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who arrived as the ZAKA (Identification, Extraction and Rescue) team was gathering tissue and blood from the area, called the attack an act of “barbarism,” and a “result of the incitement spread by the Palestinian Authority.”
Referring to Thursday night’s terrorist attack in Samaria, during which Eitam and Naama Henkin were killed in cold blood in front of their four children, Barkat told reporters, “Only yesterday, we buried a couple [killed in such an attack], and still we have heard no condemnation from the P.A.”
Meanwhile, as news of the attack in Jerusalem emerged, Israeli media outlets were reporting on “significant progress” in the investigation of the Henkin murders from Thursday night’s drive-by shooting attack. Several suspects from Nablus have been arrested, but no more information on that is available, due to the imposition of a gag order.
The Prime Minister’s Office reacted to the latest in the current wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis by announcing that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who has been in New York, attending the U.N. General Assembly — is returning to Israel as soon as Shabbat is over. According to the PMO, when he arrives on Sunday, Netanyahu will meet with the heads of Israel’s security services. On Monday, he will convene a meeting of the security cabinet to discuss the appropriate response to the rise in terrorism.