A 13-year-old girl was among four people stabbed in a terror attack in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat on Saturday evening, Israel Police reported. All four victims were later said to be in moderate condition.
A manhunt was underway for at least one assailant who stabbed the four people in a rampage, which began outside a soccer stadium in the city, before fleeing the area.
The attacker was injured when hit by a car while fleeing, according to Hebrew media reports.
Police were looking into the possibility that there was more than one assailant. A police helicopter arrived on the scene to aid in the search.
“It appears as though there was one attacker, but we always investigate the possibility that others were involved,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told The Times of Israel.
Residents of Kiryat Gat were told to stay indoors, police said.
During their search, police arrested 10 Palestinians who were in Israel illegally, most of them at building sites in the city.
A Bedouin man in his 40s — mistakenly thought to be the attacker — sustained light injuries after being beaten by a mob. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Police initially believed the attack was not nationalistically motivated, but as more information became available, their assessment changed, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
In addition to the 13-year-old girl, who was stabbed in the stomach and chest, a 51-year-old man and two women, aged 56 and 44, were also hurt in the incident, according to the Magen David Adom rescue services. They sustained wounds to the upper body.
The man was attacked as he was walking out of a nearby synagogue following Saturday night prayer services, Israel Radio reported.
“When we arrived on the scene, there were three victims sitting about 150 feet [50 meters] from one another,” MDA paramedic Efraim Yanko said.
“Then people brought us another victim, a 13-year-old girl, who was also conscious with stab wounds. We carried them into ambulances and gave them life-saving medical treatment, including stanching the bleeding with bandages and giving them an IV, as we transferred them to the hospital,” Yanko added.
The victims were moderately hurt in the attack, but were in stable condition, according to Magen David Adom.
MDA paramedics treated the four victims before taking them to the nearby Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon for further treatment.
Last month, a Palestinian man stabbed an Israel Defense Forces soldier and grabbed his gun in Kiryat Gat. He then fled to a fourth-floor apartment, where he was shot and killed by police.
The soldier was lightly injured in the attack, with wounds to his head, apparently inflicted with a pair of scissors.
Saturday’s attack is the latest in a wave of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces in Israel and across the West Bank.
Since October 1, 18 people have been killed, including an Eritrean national, a US citizen and a Palestinian bystander, in near-daily stabbing, shooting or car-ramming attacks against Israelis, by mainly Palestinian assailants.
According to Palestinian officials, more than 80 Palestinians have been killed in the same time frame. At least half of them were attackers.
On Thursday, five people were killed in two separate terror attacks in Tel Aviv and the West Bank. It was the highest fatality rate in a single day in the latest surge of attacks.