The Shin Bet security service on Wednesday published the transcript of an interrogation of two cousins aged 11 and 14 from East Jerusalem who went on a stabbing rampage two weeks ago and wounded a light rail security guard.
The 11-year-old, a sixth grader from Shuafat, is the youngest assailant arrested to date in the current upsurge of Palestinian terrorism. He is too young to face charges under current Israeli law; the 14-year-old is facing charges of attempted murder.
In their interrogation, the two children said they carried out the attack as an act of revenge, without planning in advance and with no encouragement from any adults.
“I met my cousin at the entrance to school,” said the 11-year-old, who was not named. He said they decided to revenge the death of their relative, Muhammad Ali, also from Shuafat, who was shot dead as he tried to stab a Border Police officer near the Damascus Gate of the Old City on October 10.
“The headmistress refused to let us in because our parents had not paid tuition. My cousin told me that on the way to school he wanted to carry out a stabbing attack but did not succeed because all the travelers were senior citizens,” said the boy.
The 14-year-old allegedly convinced his younger cousin to carry out an attack. The two first boarded a bus and looked for the opportune moment and target.
“We travelled from Shuafat to Damascus Gate in order to stab a soldier but did not do it because the soldiers were in groups and we didn’t find one standing alone,” recalled the 11-year-old. “Then he told me ‘let’s do an attack together to revenge the death of Muhammad Ali.’ He opened his bag and showed me the knife. At Damascus Gate I bought a pair of scissors and then we boarded the light rail and looked for Jews to stab.”
Two light rail security guards boarded the train, but the boys decided “not to stab them because there were two of them. Later on one of them got off and we immediately attacked the one that remained.”
“I stabbed him in his head, my cousin stabbed him in his chest and stomach until the guard pushed me and fired three bullets in my stomach,” said the 11-year-old.
The two cousins had decided they were ready to die as shahids, or martyrs, he said. The younger one said in the interrogation that none of their family members knew about their intentions.
“I wanted to die as a shahid but now I understand I made a mistake and I am sorry,” he was quoted saying.
At the end of his interrogation, according to the Shin Bet, he repeated: “I made a mistake. I want to be in school like any normal person. I don’t want to resist the occupation any longer.”
The older cousin confessed early on in his interrogation, but said he did not mean to kill anyone, the TV report said.
“I didn’t want to kill. I wanted to wound the settler who burned Muhammad Abu Khdeir. They said (the attacker in that case) was retarded and sent him home. So I’m a minor and I should also go home,” he is heard saying in the tape, aired by Channel 2. (The teen was referring to 16-year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped and burned on July 2, 2014, by alleged Jewish terrorists in a revenge attack for the killing of three Israeli teens by Hamas terrorists in the West Bank three weeks earlier. The trial is ongoing and the main suspect, Yosef Ben-David, insists on his right to remain silent. Ben-David’s lawyer maintains that his client is insane.)
The older cousin added: “The Israelis are occupying us and I am angry at what is happening in Gaza. I wanted to avenge the Jews who are torturing us.” Asked why they did not try to stab one of the passengers on the light rail, he said: “The Jews on the train were only old people and women, and it’s shameful to stab them.”
Abdallah Alkam, the uncle of both the Palestinian children, told Channel 2 that family members do not believe children so young were capable of carrying out such attacks.
“This kid had no intention of harming anyone or drawing blood. He didn’t mean it, he only went to school. You won’t find knives in their schoolbags, only pens and notebooks.”