A man armed with a knife stabbed and ran over others in southern Israel on Tuesday, killing four people, in one of the deadliest attacks in the country in recent years.
According to police, the attacker, identified by Israeli media as a Bedouin man who had previously tried to join the Islamic State group, was shot dead by armed locals following the attack. in the southern city of Beersheba, police said.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promised to crack down on “terrorists” after the bloodshed began shortly after 4:00 p.m. (1400 GMT) and took place at a gas station and on a street outside a nearby shopping mall. there.
Liraz Zrihan, a 25-year-old man washing his car at a gas station when the riot began, said she saw the attacker wielding a long knife “like a sword”, while spinning around and looking for people. to stab.
According to police and emergency medical responders Magen David Adom, the attacker stabbed a woman at a gas station, used his car to run past a man in his 60s on a bicycle, and stabbed several others outside the mall before he was shot.
Police have not officially identified the suspect.
But multiple Israeli media outlets reported that the attacker was Mohammed Abu al-Kiyan, a former teacher in his 30s from the Bedouin community in Hura, near Beersheba, who was previously convicted for seeking ties to IS. and preaching jihadist ideology.
In 2015, Israel arrested six Bedouins, including four teachers, for allegedly supporting IS.
– ‘High vigilance’ –
Bennett, who met his internal security secretary and police chief after the attack, commended those who shot the alleged attacker, saying they “showed resourcefulness and courage and stopped additional casualties”.
“Security forces are on high alert. We will work hard to fight the terrorists. We will also pursue them and those who help them,” the Israeli prime minister wrote. Twitter.
The Abu al-Kiyan Bedouin tribe “strongly condemned” the attack in a statement late Tuesday, saying it was a “personal” act that “does not represent law-abiding members.” of the tribe always believe in coexistence”.
Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim group that controls the Gaza Strip, issued a statement not claiming the attack but blaming Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Speaking to Hamas-controlled radio, group spokesman Hazem Qassem said “the operation is a response to Israel’s policy of ethnic displacement against our Palestinian people inside the territories.” invaded”.
The United Nations special envoy for Middle East peace, Tor Wennesland, condemned the violence, which he said was “the seventh stabbing attack on Israelis this month”.
The UN special envoy said in a statement: “I am increasingly concerned about the continued violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel that is taking place on a daily basis.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States “strongly condemns the heinous attack” and sends its condolences to the victims and their families.
– ‘Criminal action’ –
Crash and ramming attacks, often by lone Palestinian assailants, are common in Israel.
But much of the recent violence has occurred in east Jerusalem, the part of the Palestinian city annexed by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War, or in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the same year.
Attacks that have resulted in multiple deaths in Israel have also been rare in recent years, while the south of Israel, including Beersheba, has been largely free of such violence.
The region has seen unrest involving the Bedouin, part of Israel’s 20% Arab minority, and has clashed with security forces, typically over land disputes.
Mansour Abbas, leader of Israel’s Islamic Raam party that backs Bennett’s government and was supported by a large number of Bedouin voters in last year’s elections, denounced the attack.
“The Raam Party condemns the criminal attack in Beersheba and sends its condolences to the families of those killed,” the party said in a statement posted on its personal Facebook page.
The local council in Hura also condemned the incident as an “act of crime and terrorism”.
Late in the evening, dozens of Jewish nationalist protesters gathered near the scene, waving Israeli flags and chanting “death to the Arabs”, an AFP reporter said.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)