An 84-year-old woman was killed on a street in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon Tuesday evening, in what police described as “a terror attack,” as they sought the public’s help in finding the suspected killer.
The suspect was identified by authorities as Mousa Sarsour, a 28-year-old Palestinian from Qalqilya. Police issued a photo of Sarsour and asked for the public’s help in locating him.
“It was a suspect whose identity is known to us,” police chief Kobi Shabtai told reporters. “We are currently searching close by and further away to locate him.”
Anyone with knowledge of Sarsour’s whereabouts was asked to dial 100 and provide the information to police.
The woman was attacked with a blunt object to the head in the central city’s HaHashmonaim Street in broad daylight sometime before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Police were called to the scene after a neighbor heard the woman’s screams, arriving to find her seriously wounded after being attacked.
In the following hours, officials said the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, was involved in the investigation amid growing suspicions that the woman was attacked for nationalistic reasons.
Reports said CCTV footage showed a man wearing dark clothes trailing the elderly woman as she walked toward her house, before attacking her from behind, striking multiple blows using a “heavy object” before fleeing the scene. Nothing was stolen from the woman.
The victim’s son-in-law told Channel 13: “We have no idea what happened, we are in shock. She was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Authorities questioned a Palestinian worker as he left a construction site near the scene of the attack, Channel 12 news reported. It is unclear if the worker was connected to the incident.
The killing came less than two weeks after police said they thwarted a terror attack planned by a Palestinian man found in Jaffa carrying a gun and improvised explosives, with tensions running high in recent months.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid, in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, was updated on the attack and the search for the suspect.
“This is a shocking attack by a despicable and cowardly terrorist who murdered an elderly woman who could not fight back,” he said through a spokesperson.