IDF seals off two terrorists’ West Bank villages after attacks
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Police: Biden's visit may have 'acted as a trigger' for rash of incidents

IDF seals off two terrorists’ West Bank villages after attacks

Forces also enter E. Jerusalem on one of bloodiest days in ongoing wave of violence; attacks weren't coordinated

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli police and medics at the scene of a stabbing attack in Jaffa where one person was killed and 11 others were wounded on March 8, 2016. (Matanya Tausig/Flash90)
Israeli police and medics at the scene of a stabbing attack in Jaffa where one person was killed and 11 others were wounded on March 8, 2016. (Matanya Tausig/Flash90)

IDF troops closed off two West Bank villages late Tuesday, after apparently unrelated attacks in Petah Tikva and Jaffa earlier in the day left one person dead and a dozen injured, an army spokesperson said. The villages are believed to be those of the two attackers.

Security forces also entered the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, the hometown of another assailant who opened fire at police officers outside the Old City on Tuesday afternoon, injuring two, one of them critically.

The terrorists who carried out the attacks in Petah Tikva and Jaffa had entered Israeli illegally and did not possess work permits, the police revealed on Tuesday night.

According to an initial police investigation, the attacks were not related to one another or coordinated in any way.

However, officials did not dismiss outright the possibility that “the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden acted as a general trigger for these specific incidents,” the police said in a statement, referring to Biden’s arrival in Israel on Tuesday afternoon. “The police will act accordingly in its operational planning, beyond the security for the visit itself,” spokesperson Luba Samri said.

An American tourist, Taylor Force from Lubbock, Texas, was killed and another 13 people were injured in Tuesday’s three terror attacks, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

Security fores and medics at the scene of a stabbing attack that killed one person and injured nine others at the Jaffa Port on March 8, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Security fores and medics at the scene of a stabbing attack that killed one person and injured nine others at the Jaffa Port on March 8, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

In the West Bank, the two Palestinian villages of Zawiya and Hajjah were sealed off “following a situational assessment and in light of the recent terror attacks,” the IDF said.

Zawiya, located just inside the West Bank near the Israeli city of Rosh Ha’Ayin, is the hometown of Abed el-Rahman Mahmoud Radad, the 18-year-old Palestinian who attacked a man in Petah Tikva.

Radad stabbed the man in the upper body repeatedly, before the man fought back. The victim managed to remove the knife from his own neck and use it to stab and subdue his attacker, aided by a store owner, police said.

Rabad died a few minutes later.

Knife used in the Petah Tikva stabbing attack on March 8, 2016. The victim reportedly took the knife out of his neck and used it to stab his attacker. (Israel Police)
Knife used in the Petah Tikva stabbing attack on March 8, 2016. The victim reportedly took the knife out of his neck and used it to stab his attacker. (Israel Police)

The army also closed off the Palestinian village of Hajjah, located between Nablus and Qalqilya, which appears to be the hometown of 22-year-old Bashar Massalha, who carried out the Jaffa stabbing attack.

There was some initial confusion over Massalha’s residence, as police first indicated that he was from Qalqilya, and not the nearby Hajjah.

Police said the attacker first stabbed three people along the Jaffa boardwalk, a popular site for shopping and leisure, before fleeing slightly inland toward the city’s Kikar Hasha’on, where he stabbed three more people. He went on to stab at least four people near the Dolphinarium on the border with Tel Aviv.

The attacker was shot dead by police after a chase from the Jaffa Port along the Tel Aviv beach promenade.

In light of the attacks, the Israel Police called for citizens to “not allow any person who does not have official permission, to illegally reside in Israel,” Samri said.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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