Police and the Shin Bet national security agency said Sunday they arrested a Palestinian man suspected of planning the fatal stabbing attack in the Old City in which two Israeli men were killed.
Abed al-Aziz Mari was accused of helping Muhannad Halabi, 19, cross into Jerusalem illegally, purchasing a knife, and planning out the attack.
Mari planned the attack after police turned him and Halabi away from praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque, according to Hebrew media reports.
Around 7 p.m. on October 3, Halabi stabbed and killed Aharon Banita and Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, and injured Banita’s wife, Adele and their two-year-old son. He was shot and killed by security forces at the scene.
Police said Mari, a resident of Abu Dis, bought the knife for NIS 50 in the Old City after the two were not permitted to pray at the holy site.
הותר לפרסום: עבד אל עזיז מרעי, סטודנט פלסטיני מאבו דיס, נעצר בחשד שיזם את הפיגוע הרצחני ברחוב הגיא ושידל המחבל לבצעו pic.twitter.com/D8UaIYrG5B
— רועי ינובסקי (@Roi_Yanovsky) November 1, 2015
While Mari attributed the motive to the barred entry at the holy site, Halabi had written on his Facebook profile a day before the attack that the “third intifada is here.”
“According to what I see, the third intifada has erupted. What is happening to Al-Aqsa [mosque] is what is happening to our holy sites, and what is happening to the women of Al-Aqsa is what is happening to our mothers and women. I don’t believe that our people will succumb to humiliation. The people will indeed rise up,” wrote Halabi, a Ramallah resident and law student at Jerusalem’s al-Quds University.
Halabi was a member of Islamic Jihad, the terror group said immediately following the attack.
Banita, 21, an IDF soldier originally from France, was survived by his wife and two children. Lavi, 41, a father of seven who lived in the Old City, was killed after he ran out of his home upon hearing screams nearby.