A border policewoman who was stabbed to death last week in a Jerusalem terror attack was not wearing a police-issued neck protector because they are not supplied to officers on the Old City beat in the capital, according to a report on Monday.
Staff Sgt. Hadas Malka was killed by one of three Palestinians who launched a combined stabbing and shooting attack at the Damascus Gate of the Old City in Jerusalem on Friday evening.
The neck protector is issued by police to guard officers against stabbing attacks, but in the Old City it was rejected for fear that it would interfere with cops’ ability to do their jobs, according to a Channel 2 report.
The television report said there is no clear police directive about the use of the protectors and border police officers have mixed opinions about the equipment.
While some prefer the extra protection it offers, others say it comes at a heavy cost in mobility that makes it harder to respond to a threat.
“The weapons and protection are tested from time to time and it was found that the existing neck protectors today limit the ability to move and the flexibility of personnel,” police said in a statement.
“Until a better neck protector is developed, in each arena the advantage is weighed against the disadvantage. In arenas such as the Old City, where there are narrow alleyways and terrorists are embedded in the local population, speed and agility of response are operational necessities of the highest order, and that is what determines the end result.”
Malka, 23, was on patrol outside the Old City walls when she was attacked on Sultan Suleiman Street near Damascus Gate. She fought her attacker for several seconds, while attempting to draw her weapon, according to a Border Police statement. She was stabbed in the chest and transferred in critical condition to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, where she underwent emergency surgery, but later succumbed to her injuries.
Hadas had been in a group of security personnel responding to an attack moments earlier by two other Palestinian assailants, who targeted troops with knives and an automatic weapon at the adjacent Zedekiah’s Cave.
All three attackers were killed. Four other people, including another police officer, were injured in the attacks.
Malka was laid to rest in a military cemetery in the southern coastal city of Ashdod in a service attended by friends and family, as well as army and police officials, government ministers, politicians and others.
In January 2016 the IDF began supplying a type of neck protector to troops deployed in the West Bank as protection against stabbing attacks. It is not clear if the police use the same design of protection as the army.
Over the past 18 months the Old City, and the Damascus Gate area in particular, have seen several attacks by Palestinians, and in one case a Jordanian national.
The attack took place as Muslims were marking the end of the third Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan, during which tens of thousands of Palestinians from east Jerusalem and the West Bank attended prayers at the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.