Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told residents of the capital not to fear “engaging” with suspected Palestinian attackers, after three Palestinians carried out a shooting and stabbing attack, killing one border policewoman and wounding another outside the city’s Damascus Gate on Wednesday afternoon.
Officials said the quick response of security forces in shooting and killing the terrorists prevented a much larger attack by the three.
“I spoke to the brave fighters who were not afraid to engage,” the mayor said of the team of Border Police officers who shot and killed the three Palestinians attackers within moments.
“The preparedness of the policemen is what led to the engagement and saved lives. The residents of Jerusalem need to open their eyes, and in a case like this, not to fear engaging [the attackers]. This vigilance is what will thwart attacks.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also urged the public to remain on high alert, saying, “The vigilance and professionalism of police forces prevented an attack on a huge scale.”
Months ago, Barkat urged residents who have gun permits to keep their weapons on them, as the capital suffered near-daily stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks.
The mayor himself had a hand in disarming an attacker after happening upon a stabbing incident near the Old City, in February 2015.
The three attackers on Wednesday, identified by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an as Ahmed Abou Al-Roub, Mohammed Kameel and Mohammed Nassar, all hailing from the northern West Bank, arrived at the scene armed with apparently locally fabricated “Carl Gustav” rifles, knives and two pipe bombs, police said.
Police initially suspected a third item found at the scene was a bomb, but sappers determined it was an abandoned bag.
A team of border police spotted the three Palestinians and asked to see their identification papers. As one attacker withdrew his ID card, the others attacked the officers with guns and knives.
“As far as we can tell from the armaments, they planned a larger, more sophisticated attack,” Jerusalem Deputy Police Chief Avshalom Peled said. “This is an escalation from what we’ve seen thus far. The police officers prevented a combined and much larger attack.”
Paramedics with the Magen David Adom ambulance service said they treated the two women on the scene, then evacuated them to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus. One victim was in critical condition after suffering several stab wounds, the paramedics said. The other was in serious condition.
President Reuven Rivlin called the Border Police gendarmes “the guardians and protectors of the walls of Jerusalem.”
“I thank you on behalf of the entire nation for your activities in face of murderous terrorism without borders,” he said.
MDA director Eli Bin said that medics attempted to resuscitate the woman who was in critical condition. He told Channel 2 that she had been stabbed in the neck multiple times and had lost a lot of blood.
“When we arrived at the scene we saw two young women, approximately 20 years old, lying on the ground with puncture wounds to the upper body. One was unconscious, the other was still conscious but dazed,” MDA paramedic Nissan Hefetz said.
Two of the attackers were from Qabatiya in the northern West Bank, and the third was from nearby Jenin. Police said they were all 20-21 years old.
According to the Shin Bet, they had no prior involvement in terror activities.
In a statement Wednesday, Hamas congratulated the “unique and heroic operation,” describing it as a “blow to the security system of the occupation.”
Avi Issacharoff, Judah Ari Gross, and Marissa Newman contributed to this report.