Border guard moderately hurt in Old City stabbing; assailant shot dead

Attack occurs outside Temple Mount just before Muslim nightly prayers, amid general lull in terror activity in the capital

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

The scene of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City on August 17, 2020. (United Hatzalah of Israel)
The scene of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City on August 17, 2020. (United Hatzalah of Israel)

A Border Police officer was moderately wounded in an apparent stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday night, officials said.

The assailant — later identified by Palestinian officials as Ashraf Hassan Atallah Halasa, 30 — was shot dead by other officers at the scene, police said.

A woman who was standing nearby was apparently hit by a ricochet and lightly injured. She was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.

“An assailant approached a police force… whipped out a knife and used it to stab a Border Police officer and injure him moderately,” police said.

Police later released footage of the incident, showing Halasa taking out the knife and stabbing the officer in the upper chest. The border guard, along with other officers at the scene, opened fire at the assailant, killing him.

Medics said the border guard, 19, sustained a number of stab wounds and was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus for treatment.

“We gave him life-saving medical treatment, including stopping the bleeding, bandaging him, and giving him medication, and we took him quickly to the hospital in moderate, stable condition,” a Magen David Adom medic said.

A knife used in a stabbing attack that moderately injured a Border Police officer in Jerusalem’s Old City on August 17, 2020. (Israel Police)

A Hadassah spokesperson said the officer sustained stab wounds to the chest. “He is stable and fully conscious,” she said.

The attack occurred near the Lions’ Gate in the Old City, shortly before Muslim nighttime prayers. Police closed off the area, including the Temple Mount.

“Once again, the quick and determined response by police officers, including border guards, led to the neutralizing of an assailant in seconds, preventing the continued assault of police forces,” police said in a statement.

Later on Monday night, Israeli security forces arrested Halasa’s mother and two brothers from their West Bank hometown of Sawahera al-Sharqiya, just east of Jerusalem, according to the official Palestinian news outlet Wafa.

The apparent stabbing came amid a general lull in terror activity in the capital, which had not seen a stabbing attack in nearly three months.

On May 25, an East Jerusalem man armed with a utility knife and tear gas attempted to stab a police officer, who shot him, in the city’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, police said.

No police officers were wounded in that incident. The assailant was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

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