A Palestinian man from the West Bank stabbed several people Wednesday morning, in a suspected terror attack on the 40 bus line in central Tel Aviv.
At least four of the victims – including the bus driver – were listed in serious condition, while three others suffered moderate injuries and two were lightly hurt. Several more people suffered shock, according to Magen David Adom paramedics.
The attack began at about 7am, as the bus was reaching the Maariv junction in the center of the city. Eyewitnesses and police said the attacker began stabbing the bus driver repeatedly in the upper body. The bus began swerving in its lane as the driver fought with the attacker. The driver, a veteran with over two decades on the job, even tried to use pepper spray on the man, who began then attacking other passengers, police said.
The swerving bus caught the attention of an Israel Prison Service “Nahshon Unit” team who were driving behind the bus on the way to the Tel Aviv courthouse to pick up detainees. When the bus came to a stop and passengers began fleeing, three of the IPS officers began to chase the attacker as he fled east through parking lots and alleyways towards HaMasger Street.
Man stabs passengers on the 40 bus line, near Tel Aviv’s Maariv junction, January 21 . (photo credit:BEN HARTMAN)
The IPS officers managed to shoot the attacker in the leg and neutralize him, placing him under arrest.
The attacker, described by police as a 23-year-old man from Tulkarm, was taken for medical treatment and for questioning by police and the Shin Bet security services.
One bystander, a man named Ezra Malfout working at a parking lot at the junction said he saw the attacker chase two wounded victims through the lot before fleeing from pursuing officers.
Blood was splattered intermittently along a few hundred meters of the crime scene, from where the attack first began, to where the victims lay waiting for paramedics on the sidewalks and in the surrounding parking lots.
MDA paramedic Shai Pinhas, who arrived first at the scene of the attack, reported that he “saw a bus surrounded by tumult. There were wounded people walking around, some of them outside of the bus and two of them inside. Everyone was fully conscious but with stab wounds to the chest and extremities.”
Yarkon police subdistrict Commander Yehuda Dahan said that their initial investigation indicates that the man boarded the 40 bus somewhere in the Bat Yam area and began his attack while the bus neared the Maariv junction. He said that at the moment it appears he acted alone, but they have not yet ruled out the possibility that he had accomplices.
Tel Aviv Police Chief Bentzi Sau said the man was not known to police and that they did not have any prior intelligence or warning about a planned attack.
Police raised their level of readiness following the attack and have asked the public to stay aware.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.
via The Jerusalem Post