Eyewitnesses Recount Tel Aviv Stabbing Attack in Midst of Midday Prayers: People Were ‘Covered in Blood, Turning Blue’
An Israeli who witnessed Thursday afternoon’s stabbing attack in Tel Aviv’s Panorama building, which left two people dead, described the ordeal to reporters shortly after police ruled out the presence of a second perpetrator on the loose, Israeli news website Walla reported.
“A group of 15-20 of us were praying at a [Judaica] shop that serves as our daily makeshift synagogue,” Shimon recounted. “Suddenly, a man entered who was bleeding profusely. [Understanding he had just been stabbed by a terrorist, and that the terrorist was behind him], we closed the doors. The terrorist tried with all his might to get in, but we didn’t let him.”
Shimon added, “He had a knife that looked like a sword. He was shouting in Arabic and tried to slaughter the men praying. We were lucky, because he had already managed to get half of his body inside the door, but we succeeded in keeping him out.”
One of the men caught in the middle of praying phoned a family member and described the bloodbath in real time, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.
“I am at the scene of a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv,” he said.“We were praying minha [midday Jewish prayers] — because I was at a meeting in the Panorama building. A terrorist started stabbing people outside. We shut the door. He tried to get into our [makeshift] synagogue. There are people here who are seriously wounded. I photographed them. They might be dead. They’re blue. Covered in blood. We didn’t let the terrorist in. Everyone is praying and he’s yelling.”
Israel Bechar, a business owner in the Panorama building, not only witnessed the attacks, but attempted to combat the terrorist. “My worker and I heard screams, and we thought people were fist-fighting,” he told Israel’s nrg. “But then I saw a guy lying on the ground with a man with a knife on top of him. So I took a metal pipe from my parking space and threw it at the stabber. It hit him. But then he lifted his head and started chasing me, waving his knife. My worker pulled me inside the shop and we closed the door. The [terrorist] tried to open it. Then he went to the neighboring shop, but that door was also closed.”
Undeterred, the terrorist kept running, managing to stab another person. At this point, according to nrg, a man who works in the building tackled him to the ground. “I saw him stab someone with a knife. Ron Balissa recounted. “I ran out of my office. I twisted his arms, took off his belt and tied him up with it. I also wrapped his hands and feet in masking tape, and waited for the police to arrive.”
Magen David Adom paramedics who arrived on the scene moments later had to declare one of the wounded men dead. Two other wounded people were evacuated by ambulance, and one of them died at the entrance to Ichilov Hospital.
Later in the evening, the names of the deceased – 51-year-old Reuven Aviram from Ramle, and 32-year-old Aharon Asayev from Holon – were released.
An interrogation of the terrorist by police began at the scene. He was revealed to be Raed Masalmeh, a 36-year-old father-of-five from the Hebron area with an Israeli work permit and a job at Samarkand, a Bukhari restaurant in Jaffa, within walking distance from the site of the attack.