Off-duty soldier killed, another wounded in terror stabbing by Arab citizen at Karmiel mall

Assailant from nearby town of Nahf shot dead by slain victim Sgt. Aleksandr Iakiminskyi; members of terrorist’s family, some of whom work at mall, arrested

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

The aftermath of a terror stabbing at a mall in Karmiel, July 3, 2024; inset: Sgt. Aleksandr Iakiminskyi, 19, who was killed in the attack. (Magen David Adom; courtesy)
The aftermath of a terror stabbing at a mall in Karmiel, July 3, 2024; inset: Sgt. Aleksandr Iakiminskyi, 19, who was killed in the attack. (Magen David Adom; courtesy)

An off-duty Israeli soldier was killed and a second was wounded in a terror stabbing attack at a shopping mall in the northern city of Karmiel on Wednesday, police and medics said. The slain soldier managed to kill the terrorist before collapsing.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said that two men in their 20s were taken to Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya. They were listed in critical and serious condition, according to MDA. One of them was later declared dead.

He was named by the Israel Defense Forces as Sgt. Aleksandr Iakiminskyi, 19, a truck driver in the 188th Armored Brigade’s 71st Battalion, from Nahariya.

The second soldier also served in the 71st Battalion, according to the IDF.

Graphic surveillance camera footage showed that the terrorist stabbed Iakiminskyi several times in the neck before attacking the second soldier. Iakiminskyi was seen getting up after being attacked and opening fire at the terrorist.

Security officials later identified the assailant as Jawwad Omar Rubia, an Israeli citizen from the nearby Arab town of Nahf. He was shot dead, police said.

Warning: Graphic

Northern District Police Chief Shuki Tahauko said that the terrorist had arrived at the mall on foot.

Israel Police spokesman Eli Levy said security forces did not immediately rule out the possibility that there were additional threats in the area.

“Naturally, we are familiar with this type of attack, and we need to rule out the possibility that there are additional terrorists in the vicinity,” he said.

Karmiel Mayor Moshe Koninski told the Kan broadcaster, “We are experiencing such an event for the first time… It is an old shopping center that is used by most of the area. I hear a lot of speculation about the identity of the [assailant], but we will let the police complete their investigation.”

“I really hope it’s not a resident of the area,” he added. “There are weeds everywhere, among Jews and Arabs alike.”

Karmiel has seen a growing influx of upper-middle-class Arab professionals in recent years, one of several cities around the country seeing trends of de facto segregation fall by the wayside.

The northern city was one of several communities that were strategically established starting in the mid-1960s as part of a government attempt to expand the Jewish presence in the Galilee, where Arabs made up most of the population.

Police and rescue forces outside the scene of a stabbing attack in Karmiel, northern Israel, July 3, 2024. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The police spokesman also pointed to a rise in incitement to terror amid the ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza, according to Ynet.

“Incitement to terrorism is running rampant on social networks. At the same time, together with the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces, we are destroying a lot of terrorist infrastructure and thwarting many attacks,” he was quoted as saying.

Officers arrested several of Rubia’s family members at the scene, as they worked at the mall, according to the Haaretz daily, which reported that police subsequently entered Nahf to detain additional relatives.

A sister of the alleged Karmiel mall terrorist is arrested at the scene, July 3, 2024 (David Cohen/Flash90)

Nahf’s mayor Muhammad Zuri condemned the attack, stressing his town has long maintained good relations with neighboring Jewish communities.

“I hope this won’t spoil those relations. There is outrage in the village over this incident, and we hope it will remain an isolated one,” Zuri said in a statement.

Hamas meanwhile praised the attack in Karmiel, releasing a statement calling it a “natural response” to Israel’s operations in Gaza and the West Bank. The terror group described the assailant as “one of the heroes of our people,” but did not claim responsibility for the stabbing, while hailing attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers as the only way to “defend the rights” of Palestinians and to “liberate their land.”

Tensions in Israel and the West Bank have soared since October 7, when terrorists burst through the Gaza border into Israel in a Hamas-led attack, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 251 hostages.

Since then, 22 Israelis, including security personnel, have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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