The assailant carried out a multi-prong attack in Israel’s southern city of Beersheba before being fatally shot by passersby.
By Erin Viner
34-year-old former terror convict Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an from southern Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev stabbed a woman to death at a gas station, ran over a cyclist in his car and then stabbed several people at the outdoor BIG shopping mall yesterday.
The rampage was ultimately brought to an end when al-Qi’an lunged at an armed bus driver trying to get him to lower his weapon. Footage shows the assailant was shot by the driver as well as another armed Israeli civilian.
Rabbi Moshe Kravitsky, a 50-year-old father of four who ran a local soup kitchen for the poor over the last decade, was the bicyclist who died after being run over by the terrorist’s car. The stabbing victims were 43-year-old mother of 3, Laura Yitzhak; Doris Yachbas, 49, from Moshav Gilat, who also had 3 children, and 67-year-old Yehezkel Menachem of Beersheba.
Two others hurt in the attack have been hospitalized in stable condition.
The Israeli Security Agency (ISA, also known as the Shin Bet) is investigating the deadliest terror incident, which represents the highest death toll in a single attack against Israelis since 2017, when a Palestinian rammed his truck into a group of soldiers visiting a Jerusalem promenade, killing four of them. He was also shot dead at the scene.
Al-Qi’an was a former schoolteacher who was convicted of trying to recruit others to the Islamic State terror group. He was released after a four-year term in prison in 2019.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett immediately issued a statement expressing his “deepest condolences to the families of those who were murdered in the heinous terrorist attack in Beersheba” and said he is ’praying for the well-being of those who were wounded.”
Following an assessment of the situation and a consultation with Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev and the Israel Police Inspector General pursuant to the attack, Bennett commented that “The civilians who shot the terrorist showed resourcefulness and bravery and prevented additional loss of life.”
The Israeli leader added that the nation’s security forces “are on maximum alert” and “will take strong action against terrorists,” including the pursuit and capture of anyone “who aided and abetted them.”
That message was echoed by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who vowed that “the IDF and security forces will use all means to prevent terrorist incidents, as much as possible.”
“We are on high alert against all threats in all areas,” Gantz said, underscoring, “We will make sure that anyone who encourages or supports the latest attacks, will pay a price,” he added during a tour of the military’s northern command.
President Isaac Herzog issued a statement saying that “the heart is torn and pained, as innocent souls pay the bloody price of hostility and hatred,” asserting that, “terrorism will not overwhelm us or undermine our right to exist in our country.”
Al-Qi’an’s hometown of Hura also condemned the incident, calling the “harming of innocent citizens” a “criminal and despicable act of terror,” stressing that “the municipality calls on all residents of the Negev – Arab and Jews alike – to maintain the good relationship they have had until now.”
United States State Department Spokesperson Ned Price offered condolences to the victims and their families while strongly condemning the “abhorrent … terrorist attack.” He added that Washington stands “ready to provide support to the Israeli government’s efforts to investigate this heinous crime.”
The Islamist Hamas terror group predictably praised the murders, saying that the attack “salutes the executor of the heroic operation in occupied Beersheba.” Hamas Spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou vowed on the Gaza-rulers’ official radio channel that Palestinians will carry out more “stabbings, car-rammings and shootings.”
The deadly attack comes amid a surge of terrorism in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Two police officers were wounded in a stabbing attack in the Ras al-Amud Arab neighborhood of the capital on Sunday, and an Israeli jogger was lightly-injured on Saturday after successfully fending off a knife-wielding Palestinian. There were additional attacks in the Old City earlier this month. Nine Palestinians were killed during clashes with IDF troops in recent weeks, that included the exchange of gunfire between the sides.
The Israeli security establishment is preparing for a potential rise of attacks ahead of and during the approaching Muslim holy month of Ramadan, noted for the outbreak of Palestinian violence in previous years.