An Israeli teenager on Friday morning went on a stabbing spree in the southern city of Dimona, wounding three Palestinian men and a Bedouin Arab.
Two men were moderately to seriously wounded, while two other victims were being treated for light wounds, the Magen David Adom first-aid service and police said. Three were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in nearby Beersheba, MDA said.
The stabber attacked one man at a shopping center and then advanced to another location next to a local school, where he stabbed three others. A security guard then tackled and restrained the suspect, 17, until police arrived.
Police called the attack “nationalistic,” indicating that it was likely retaliation for a rash of recent Palestinian attacks against Israelis, which have triggered an escalation in anti-Arab rhetoric in recent days.
The suspect, who reports said has a criminal background, confessed to the stabbing, saying that he thinks “all Arabs are terrorists.”
According to the city’s mayor, Benny Biton, three of the victims are municipal employees. In a statement, Biton expressed sorrow and called on residents to “exercise restraint” in the wake of the attack.
A reporter for Israel’s Channel 10 news posted footage of armed Israelis, perhaps plainclothes police, subduing the stabber.
מעצר המחבל בדימונה. מצב 2 מהנפגעים בינוני-קשה pic.twitter.com/k8yIeuQ5Sn
— Alon Ben-David (@alonbd) October 9, 2015
“When we arrived, we saw a lot of people who had converged on a shopping center,” MDA paramedic Orgad Cohen said of the scene of the first stabbing. “On the sidewalk lay an approximately 20-year-old man who appeared to be a sanitation worker. He was fully conscious and suffering from an injury to the upper body.
“We immediately put him in an ambulance and gave him medical treatment during the transit to the hospital. His condition is moderate but stable,” Cohen added.
Paramedics who arrived at the scene of the second stabbing said they encountered a “42-year-old man lying on the sidewalk.” He was fully conscious, with wounds to his upper body, they said, according to MDA. “Two more wounded men in their 50s with light injuries to their upper bodies came to the nearby police station. We administered medical treatment to the three injured men and sent them to the hospital. One was in moderate but stable condition; the other two were only lightly injured,” they added in a statement.
The attack followed a spate of attacks against Jewish Israelis. In all, seven Israelis were injured in four stabbing incidents on Thursday. On Wednesday, Israelis were hurt in three stabbings. Those attacks came days after two Israeli men were stabbed to death in the Old City of Jerusalem and an Israeli couple were gunned down in the West Bank in front of their four children.
At least seven Palestinians have been killed in the latest surge of violence, including four who were targeted while they were carrying out attacks against Israelis.
As tempers flared, Jewish extremists staged protests and assaulted Arabs in various Israeli cities on Thursday. In the evening in Jerusalem, activists from the anti-Arab Lehava group, along with far-right fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club, marched to the Old City, chanting slogans including “Death to the Arabs” and “Muhammad is dead.”
The Hebrew-language webzine Hamakom reported that throughout the march, activists asked passersby for the time in order to determine, by their accents, whether they were Arabs. In the Mahane Yehuda market and the adjacent Nahlaot neighborhood, the report said, protesters chased after Arabs. Later, they assaulted TV crews in downtown Jerusalem and the Old City.
Lehava’s leader, Bentzi Gopstein, was detained along with six others. All were released on Friday morning.
Earlier in the day, Jerusalem was the setting of a stabbing attack that saw a yeshiva student seriously wounded by a 19-year-old Palestinian resident of the city.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has called on residents with a gun license to carry a firearm with them at all times so as to thwart further attacks.
The northern city of Afula, the site of another stabbing attack Thursday against an Israeli soldier, saw anti-Arab protests later that day. An enraged mob also converged on a Channel 2 news crew and on reporter Fourat Nassar near the scene of the stabbing.
“There was an assault on us that was aimed at one of the crew members, our soundman,” Nassar later told Haaretz, noting that the attack was carried out by “a handful of impassioned people, while others tried to rebuff them until police arrived.”
In the coastal city of Netanya on Thursday evening, enraged Israelis assembled and chanted “Death to the Arabs” after false reports of a Palestinian stabbing attack there, a report in the local news site KSN said.
The crowd of several dozen then assaulted a man whom they “suspected of being an Arab,” the report said. The Ynet news site reported that the man was beaten severely with chairs and sticks before police arrived and extracted him. He was treated in the city’s Laniado Hospital.
The extremist Jewish group al-Yahoud posted video footage of the attack to Facebook.
Earlier in the day, five people were lightly injured in nearby Tel Aviv when a Palestinian assailant attacked passersby with a screwdriver. The attacker was shot and killed by a soldier. Another Israeli man was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack near Hebron in the West Bank on Thursday afternoon.
Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.