Tel Aviv bus stabbing rips #JeSuisCharlie unity

At least 12 people were wounded, some seriously, when a Palestinian man stabbed passengers and the driver on a Tel Aviv bus.

Four victims, including the driver, were in serious condition following the Jan. 21 attack on the No. 40 bus. Initial reports said 12 to 21 people were injured.

The assailant was apprehended by police after being shot in the leg by a commander in the Israel Prison Service who happened to be near the scene of the attack.

Medics evacuate Israeli man injured in the Jan. 21 stabbing attack on a Tel Aviv bus. photo/jta-flash90

Police identified the assailant as Hamza Muhammed Hasan Matrouk, 23, from the West Bank city of Tulkarem, who had entered Israel illegally.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Prison Service members who stopped the attacker and drew a link between the incident and recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium.

“The attack in Tel Aviv is the direct result of the poisonous incitement spread by the Palestinian Authority toward the Jews and their state,” Netanyahu said. “The same terror tries to harm us in Paris, Brussels and everywhere.”

According to Israeli reports, the attacker boarded the bus at approximately 7:15 a.m. and began stabbing passengers soon afterward.

Liel Suissa, an eighth-grader on his way to school, told the daily Israel Hayom that he broke a bus window to escape. He said the assailant continued chasing people after they escaped the bus.

“Suddenly the terrorist came and began stabbing people,” Suissa said, according to Israel Hayom. “We all went to the back, and most of the people piled onto me. I sat in the bus and heard people screaming. He turned around in the bus and suddenly went to the driver and stabbed him.”

The driver, Herzl Biton, 55, sprayed the assailant with pepper spray as he was being stabbed, slowing him down and aiding the Prison Service employees in stopping him as he fled the scene.

Hamas officials praised the attack as “heroic and courageous,” according to Israeli reports. Hamas said it was a “natural reaction of sons of the Palestinian nation to the crimes of the cruel Zionist occupier.”

Britain’s Daily Mail reported that immediately after the attack, the hashtag #JeSuis Couteau, French for “I am knife,” began trending on Twitter as supporters of the attacker took to social media to praise him. Some tweets included illustrations of the Palestinian flag and a bloody knife; one  showed a knife thrust into a pile of skulls marked with the Star of David.

The new social media campaign “is an attempt to reappropriate the hashtag of solidarity — #JeSuisCharlie — which swept the world in the wake of the terrorist massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices,” the Daily Mail opined, pointing out that this time the posts are supporting rather than decrying terrorism.

The attack was the first in Tel Aviv since a soldier was stabbed to death at a train station in November. — jta


Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.