A Palestinian opened fire and wielded a knife at the central bus station in the southern city of Beer Sheva yesterday evening, killing one Israeli and wounding eleven.
The attack came at the end of a day of relatively quiet, although there were several stabbing incidents over the weekend. The terrorist, later identified as Mouhand al-Okbi, an Israeli citizen, from the Negev town of Hura, was able to enter the bus station armed with a pistol and a knife. He first attempted to stab a woman, who fended him off with pepper spray. However, al-Okbi then shot dead off-duty Sergeant Omri Levy, stole his M-16 rifle and opened fire on others. Five were seriously wounded and evacuated to the nearby Soroka Hospital. Al-Okbi was then pursued by security forces who shot him dead.
In the melee, an anti-terror officer and a Border Policeman mistakenly identified an Eritrean man as a second attacker and shot him too. A crowd of onlookers also attacked the man they believed to be a terrorist, who later died of his wounds. Ynet reports that police attempted to keep the crowd of passers-by at bay.
Following the attack, Beer Sheva Mayor Rubik Danielovitch told Channel Two, “We’re talking about a very serious terror attack that could have resulted in severe consequences if it weren’t for the resourcefulness and the quick response of security forces.” However, he also called on the public to “practice restraint, be balanced and act calmly. Do not take the law into your own hands.”
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad released a statement praising yesterday’s attack, calling it a “natural response to the cold-blooded executions of Palestinians by the IDF and the settlers.”
Yesterday’s shooting was the second in the current wave of attacks involving a firearm, after two local Arabs boarded a Jerusalem bus and opened fire on passengers last week. During the last two weeks nine Israelis have been killed in almost daily attacks, mainly stabbings.