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      Ten Wounded In Tel Aviv Stabbing Attack

      Ten Wounded In Tel Aviv Stabbing Attack Ten Wounded In Tel Aviv Stabbing Attack Ten Wounded In Tel Aviv Stabbing Attack
      Image via Facebook/Israel Police

      Middle East

      Ten Wounded In Tel Aviv Stabbing Attack

      By John Beck

      A knife-wielding Palestinian man injured at least 10 passengers on a Tel Aviv bus on Wednesday morning, before being shot by a security officer as he fled the scene, according to local police. 

      The attack happened shortly after 7.30am local time (12.30am EST) in the Ma'ariv bridge area of the Israeli city, according to a police statement. The bus driver was stabbed several times, but fought back with the help of passengers. A prison officer who had been passing in a vehicle then chased the suspect on foot and shot him in the leg, the statement says. 

      Of the ten people wounded, five are suffering from "moderate to severe" injuries, the police said.

      Police identified the man as a 23-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank town of Tulkarem who was in Israel illegally.

      Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, Israel Police Foreign Press Spokesman described the incident as a "terrorist attack" and posted a picture on Twitter showing the blood-stained floor of the bus. 

      The police force also posted video and images of the aftermath on its Facebook page.

      Benny Botroshveli, the prison officer who stopped the man, told local daily Haaretz that he had been in the area by chance on an escort duty to a courthouse nearby when he came across a crowd on Ma'ariv bridge shouting for help. "Me and my team of three others identified the terrorist and chased after him. The terrorist collapsed after we shot at his legs. We then shackled him and awaited the arrival of police officers."

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid blame on Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority, claiming it was encouraging violence. "The terrorist attack in Tel Aviv is the direct result of the poisonous incitement being disseminated by the Palestinian Authority against the Jews and their state," he said in a statement. "This same terrorism is trying to attack us in Paris, Brussels and everywhere."

      Senior Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq, currently in Qatar, praised the attack as a "heroic and daring operation" in post on his Facebook page, going on to describe it as a "natural response to the occupation and its crimes against our people."

      This is the first such incident after a period of increased strain in Israeli-Palestinian relations at the of last year. 

      Following 2014's bloody Gaza war and a fresh expansion of Jewish settlements, tensions were further inflamed in a dispute over one of Jerusalem's holiest sites — called Noble Sanctuary by Muslims and Temple Mount by Jews — which is home to the al-Aqsa mosque and where Jewish temples once stood.

      Israel's religious authorities have long banned Jews from praying there, but hardline Israeli elements stepped up campaigns to be allowed to do so sparking violent protests and counter-protests.  

      In late October a Palestinian gunman shot and wounded an ultraconservative rabbi who had been promoting Jewish presence there. Further attacks followed. A number of Palestinians deliberately drove into Israeli pedestrians in November, leaving several people dead and injured. In the same month, five were murdered in an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue and an Israeli woman and an IDF soldier were killed and two other people injured in separate stabbing incidents.

      Israeli troops, meanwhile, shot dead a Palestinian protester in Hebron while attempting to disperse a group of demonstrators, as well as an Arab-Israeli during an arrest in the town of Kafr Kana, seemingly as he was backing away from the officers. There have also been attacks on both synagogues and mosques.

      Follow John Beck on Twitter: @JM_Beck

      Topics: middle east, israel, palestine, tel aviv

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