The Israel Police and Shin Bet security service arrested three underage East Jerusalem residents in connection with a stabbing attack earlier this month, in which two elderly Jewish women, one of them a Holocaust survivor, were moderately injured, officials said Monday.
On May 10, a group of five elderly Israelis were walking along the Armon Hanatziv promenade in the capital — in an area of the park known as the Peace Forest — when two Arab teenagers wearing masks pulled out knives and the “wooden handle of an ax” and attacked two of the women before fleeing the scene, police said.
The victims, aged 82 and 86, were hospitalized in moderate condition.
According to police, the attack was premeditated, and the suspects had discussed it “while they were at school through social media, specifically Facebook.”
The three suspects are all 16 to 17 years old and are residents of the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood of East Jerusalem, police said. Due to their young age, their identities will not be made public.
Two of them are accused of carrying out the assault, while the third is believed to have conspired with them and planned to “carry out the stabbing attack if the other two died,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
On the morning of the attack, the trio gathered at a mini-market in Jabel Mukaber before setting off for the promenade to “wait for Jewish victims,” the police said.
The third teenager, who allegedly helped plan but did not actually take part in the stabbing, told investigators he decided not to join his friends in the terror attack “for fear that it would cause his parents’ home to be destroyed,” the police said.
After the attack,the suspects are believed to have stashed the weapons nearby before one went home and the second went to school. Later on, one of them returned to the scene, retrieved the knives and cudgel, and hid them in Jabel Mukaber, police said.
Throughout the day, the two suspects “spoke with one another through WhatsApp and Facebook messages and planned to carry out another stabbing attack in light of the ‘success’ of the Peace Forest attack,” the police said.
However, the pair were arrested before they could carry out such an attack, a police spokesperson said.
The mother of one of the two attackers was also arrested last week at a checkpoint east of Jerusalem when border guards discovered a knife in her possession, the police said.
The three suspects were arrested on May 19, but information about their arrests was kept secret under a court-approved gag order.
That order was lifted on Monday when the three teenagers were officially informed that they would be charged in a Jerusalem District Court.
The Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber borders the Jewish Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, an area that has been the site of contention for years with rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on an almost nightly basis at times.