A Palestinian terrorist on Thursday stabbed a young female Israeli soldier in the upper body aboard Jerusalem’s light rail, seriously wounding the victim, who was taken to the hospital. The suspect was apprehended later at a checkpoint. Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, speaking with The Mideast Update by phone, confirmed the incident was an act of terror with nationalistic intention.
“Definitively a nationalistic motive,” said Rosenfeld.
The stabbing took place on the light rail near the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev, which is near the West Bank. Rosenfeld said the terrorist was on the rail carriage, waited until the doors opened, and then stabbed the soldier before escaping.
Emergency services were dispatched to care for the victim, while a manhunt was launched for the suspect. He was arrested about an hour-and-a-half later at the Qalandiya crossing in northern Jerusalem. He has admitted to carrying out the attack.
Rosenfeld said they are still trying to determine if the Palestinian was acting independently, as well as whether the recently intensified Israel-Gaza conflict was a factor. Starting last Friday over a span of four days, terrorists fired hundreds of rockets while the IDF responded with dozens of airstrikes in the heaviest fighting in months.
“One of the things that we’re looking at in terms of the investigation is to understand if he carried out the attack on his own or if he received any orders,” said Rosenfeld. “Or if there’s any connection into what took place over the last few days in the southern part of Israel, where there was a deterioration in security and a lot of issues that were dealt with when the rockets were landing.”
In addition to the recent spike in violence in the south, the Jerusalem marathon is set for tomorrow. Rosenfeld noted that thousands of people are expected to participate. Last year, a bomb was set off near a bus in Jerusalem and killed a British woman studying in Israel just days before the marathon, which passed itself without incident.
“Since the [stabbing] attack took place [earlier today], we’ve carried out a number of security assessments in Jerusalem,” said Rosenfeld. “We’ve heightened security in Jerusalem in order to prevent any further attacks from taking place… Tomorrow morning in Jerusalem we have the marathon, where there’s approximately 10,000-15,000 people taking part, and therefore we’ll conclude the security measures that need to be implemented later on tonight.“
In addition to general security, he said they would have to consider ways to increase security aboard the light rail. The rail line, he pointed out, is public transport and therefore “open to everyone.”
“Obviously we’re going to have to tighten security on the light rail, as well as around the different train stops and also an emphasis on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which are the last stops on the rail,” said Rosenfeld.
He said they are looking at upgrading and stepping up patrols for police security personnel around the rail stops, while noting the private security aboard the train will be stepped up regardless, at least for the short term.
“It was a pinpointed attack,” said Rosenfeld. “We’re hoping that nothing else will occur, obviously within the next 24 hours of course and within the next days ahead, and we’re hoping that things will continue to be quiet and secure the way they were in Jerusalem until to this morning.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 15, 2012)