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March 22, 2022 3:04 pm
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Israel’s Security Forces on ‘Maximum Alert’ After Former Terror Convict Kills Four in Beersheba Attack

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

The wreckage of a car, used by an Arab assailant in a ramming and stabbing attack that killed four people at a gas station and a shopping centre in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, stands at an intersection after he crashed into another vehicle. The knife-wielding assailant, identified by Israeli police as an Arab citizen of Israel, was shot dead by a passerby, in Beersheba, Israel, March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dudu Grunshpan

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has put Israel’s security forces on “maximum alert” after an Arab Israeli on Tuesday carried out a deadly stabbing and ramming attack that killed at least four people and seriously wounded two in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.

The assailant has been identified as Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, a former terror convict from the Bedouin southern Negev town of Hura.

The 34-year-old Arab Israeli first stabbed a woman at a gas station, then returned to his car and rammed into a cyclist. The attacker then drove to a nearby shopping mall, where he got out of his car and stabbed several people before being neutralized by a local bus driver.

In footage from the scene, the bus driver can be seen talking to the attacker, trying to persuade him to lower his bloody knife, before he eventually shoots him.

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Bennett sent his “deepest condolences” to the families of those murdered in the “heinous” terrorist attack, and thanked the civilian who shot the terrorist for his “resourcefulness and bravery” in preventing an additional loss of life.

“The security forces are on maximum alert. We will take strong action against terrorists,” Bennett warned. “We will also pursue and apprehend those who aided and abetted them.”

Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai told reporters at the scene that the entire incident lasted eight minutes, and police officers arrived at the scene four minutes after being alerted.

“We haven’t encountered a killing spree of this magnitude in some time,” Shabtai said.

Back in June 2015, the attacker, a former school teacher in Hura, was detained, and during his interrogation admitted supporting ISIS and attending meetings of ISIS supporters, Israel’s N12 news reported. The interrogation also revealed that he planned to travel to Syria in July 2015 to join ISIS.

Abu al-Qi’an served four years in prison after being indicted for supporting and promoting ISIS and attempting to form a terror cell in Israel. He was released in 2019.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev described the attack as “brutal and severe,” carried out by a “cursed terrorist, and that it would have been better if he had he not been released from prison in 2019.”

“We will not rest until we eradicate nationalist terrorism. We will persecute and get the terrorists wherever they are,” Barlev tweeted.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the country’s security forces are on “high alert” in the face of a number of threats.

“We will make sure that whoever encourages the recent attacks or supports them — will pay the price,” Gantz announced

The deadly attack was praised by both the Hamas terror group controlling the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Neither group claimed responsibility for the attack.

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