The driver of a bus where a terror stabbing took place on Thursday said that as soon as he heard gunfire, he opened the vehicle’s doors and told the passengers to evacuate.
A 28-year-old Israeli man was seriously wounded on Thursday morning when he was assaulted by another passenger on the bus, a Palestinian armed with a screwdriver, near the West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel, south of Jerusalem.
The terrorist was shot dead by a third passenger.
The bus driver said that as soon as he heard gunfire, he realized there was a problem.
“I made an emergency stop, opened the doors and asked the passengers to get off,” Muhammad Sa’id told the Ynet news site. “I never thought I would be at an incident like this.”
Sa’id, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, was taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where he was treated for anxiety.
The driver’s father told Channel 12 news that his son recounted the incident to him.
“What I understood from him is that he was driving and picked up a passenger at Elazar Junction. One stop later, at the traffic lights for the Neve Daniel junction, he suddenly heard shots. He looked back in the mirror, and saw someone with a gun shoot someone else. He opened the two doors straight away so that people could get off the bus quickly,” the father said.
“The terrorist got on the bus at Elazar Junction. My son is very scared and they are helping him calm down now,” he said.
The hospital said Thursday afternoon that the Israeli man who was stabbed underwent what doctors described as life-saving surgery and was in intensive care, where he remained in serious condition.
The stabber was identified by Palestinian health officials as Nidal Juma’a Ja’afra, 30.
Israeli soldiers later entered Ja’afra’s hometown of Tarqumiyah, near Hebron, to search his home. According to Palestinian media reports, clashes erupted in the area soon after the troops raided the town. There was no immediate comment by the Israeli military.
The stabbing comes amid one of the worst terror waves in recent year, which has seen 11 people killed since last week: four people in a stabbing and ramming attack in Beersheba, two in a shooting in Hadera, and five in a shooting in Bnei Brak.
Security forces have been placed on high alert and ordered to crack down on any potential terror cells and individuals seen as a possible danger, both inside Israel and in the West Bank.
Officials have warned that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — which is set to begin over the weekend — could raise tensions still further.
Cabinet ministers decided on Wednesday night not to initiate a crackdown on Palestinians over Ramadan so as not to feed an escalation of violence.
Thursday morning also saw a large-scale Israeli arrest operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, with at least two Palestinians killed in exchanges of fire between Israeli commandos and Palestinian gunmen. Palestinian media identified the two as Sanad Abu Atiyeh, 17, and Yazid al-Sa’adi, 23.
Palestinian health officials said that 14 Palestinians were struck by Israeli bullets, with three seriously wounded and one in moderate condition, in addition to the two killed.
One soldier was lightly wounded and taken to the hospital for treatment, according to the army.
Aaron Boxerman and Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.