Hannah Bladon, the British student who was stabbed to death on the Jerusalem light rail on Friday, was standing by the exit doors of the train, near to the murderous Palestinian assailant, because she had given up her seat to enable a woman who was holding a baby to sit down, Israeli TV reported Saturday.
The Palestinian terrorist, Jamil Tamimi, 57, told investigators that he attacked her because he wanted to die and hoped the soldier who was standing next to her on the train would kill him, Channel 2 news further reported, describing the killing as “an attempted suicide attack.”
Tamimi was on his way from a mental hospital in northern Israel when he carried out the fatal stabbing. He had telephoned his family when he reached Jerusalem, and spoken to one of his sons, who told him that the family wanted no contact with him, in part because he had previously been convicted of sexually abusing his daughter.
He told investigators that he felt he had “nothing left to lose.” He purchased a knife in the Old City and boarded the light rail at Damascus Gate shortly before 1:00 p.m. Seeing an armed soldier on board, he decided to attack the young woman — Bladon — who was standing nearby. He took out the knife he had just purchased and stabbed her multiple times, critically wounding her.
“I attacked her so that the soldier would shoot me,” the TV report quoted Tamimi as saying to investigators.
A Jerusalem court on Saturday remanded Tamimi in custody and ordered him sent for psychiatric tests.
In a statement on Saturday, her family in the UK said Bladon “was the most caring, sensitive and compassionate daughter you could ever wish for.”
Her “final act of kindness,” the TV report said, was to give up her seat on the train for the woman who was holding a baby. Bladon had previously been sitting further back in the carriage, but got up for the woman, and went to stand near the exit door.
Bladon’s family said they were “devastated” by her death in a “senseless and tragic attack.”
The statement noted that Hannah was “a talented student,” an “enthusiastic rugby player” and “a keen Derby County supporter.
“She was driven and passionate and her death leaves so much promise unfulfilled.”
Bladon had been studying religion, theology and archaeology at the University of Birmingham since 2015. As part of her studies she began a program in Jerusalem’s Hebrew University in January, which she was set to complete in September.
Her family said she had been returning from an archaeological dig when she was killed.
The Hebrew University sent its condolences to the family, saying in a statement that it “condemns such acts of terror that harm innocent people, and especially a student who came to Jerusalem to study and widen her academic horizons.”
In a Facebook post in January, Bladon wrote that she was doing okay in response to some concerns for her safety amid an ongoing wave of terror attacks that had largely subsided since beginning in October 2015.
“Thanks guys. I’m ok thanks!” she posted. “Security is really tight on campus so no worries at mo[ment]! Managed to see a lot of sites before starting my classes today so defo (definitely) having a great time! Xx”.
The comment accompanied a picture of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
After Bladon was stabbed an off-duty police officer and a passerby wrestled Tamimi to the ground before he could harm anyone else.
Two other people were lightly injured when the tram made an emergency stop.
Footage from inside the tram shows Tamimi being subdued. Personal belongings including a suitcase and a children’s double stroller can be seen next to the scene.
Medics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service carried out CPR on Bladon at the scene before taking her to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus. She was brought to the hospital in critical condition, with multiple stab wounds to the upper body, a medic said.
She died of her wounds shortly after arriving to the hospital, a Hadassah spokesperson said.
The terror attack was condemned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, who also offered their condolences to Bladon’s family.
Ira Kirschner, the Director of the Rothberg School’s Office of Student Life, told Channel 10 News that Bladon was “very polite,” which created the impression that she was shy, when she first arrived at the university. “But she wasn’t like that. She was adventurous and had come here to have experiences, to meet people, and to get to know the history of the state.”
Israeli ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of UK student Hannah Bladon, who was murdered in a senseless act of terror in Jerusalem today.”
Paramedics also treated a pregnant woman who suffered an injury to her stomach when the light rail came to a sudden halt because of the attack, as well as a man in his 50s who hurt his leg when he tried to run from the scene, MDA said. Both were lightly injured and taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment, MDA said.
Tamimi, from the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood of East Jerusalem, apparently “suffers from mental problems,” a police spokesperson said Friday.
Earlier this year, he tried to commit suicide by swallowing a razor blade, according to the Shin Bet. He was also found guilty of sexually abusing his daughter in 2011.
“This is another case, out of many, where a Palestinian who is suffering from personal, mental or moral issues chooses to carry out a terror attack in order to find a way out of their problems,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
Security forces have been on high alert over the Passover and Easter holidays when hundreds of thousands of people visit Jerusalem. The army imposed a closure on the West Bank for the duration of the holidays.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.