An Israeli teenager was wounded in a stabbing attack by two Palestinians in Beit Shemesh on Thursday morning.
The victim, 18, incorrectly described as a policeman in initial reports, sustained light to moderate injuries. He was evacuated to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem.
The two terrorists, identified by police as Palestinians from the Hebron area, were shot in the attack, which took place shortly before 8 a.m. on Havakuk Street. One was reportedly in critical condition while another was said to be dead on arrival at hospital.
The assailants were later named as 20-year-olds Maqdad Alhih from Halhul and Mahmoud Ghanimat from Surif.
The Shin Bet security service said that one of the two was a member of Hamas and the second had been jailed for two years after he was caught carrying a knife at the Cave of Patriarchs holy site in Hebron.
Both were wearing t-shirts reading “Izz ad-Din al-Qassam,” the name of Hamas’ armed wing.
Yinon Chen, an eyewitness to the events, told Channel 2 that the attackers were standing at a bus stop alongside children waiting for their morning ride to school. “I saw these two suspicious-looking people. They tried to board a school bus,” Chen said, “but the driver closed the door in order to keep them out.”
The attempt to board a school bus full of children was confirmed by Jerusalem District Police spokesperson Asi Aharony, according to the Ynet news site.
Chen continued: “Nobody wanted to approach them because nobody had a gun.”
Chen called the police and began following the two men. “They saw me approach, so they walked away, to another street. I followed, with the police on the phone.”
A police cruiser arrived, and Chen pointed the cops in the direction of the suspicious individuals, who he said were “wearing their hoodies up, with hands in their pockets. The cops followed in their direction. A young man walked out of the synagogue [they were approaching], and they jumped him.”
Knife used by Arab terrorists in bet Shemesh stabbing attack. Police units responded at scene, both terrorist shot pic.twitter.com/MjFOZ8tI8Z
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) October 22, 2015
The terrorists apparently attempted to enter the synagogue on Havakuk Street in order to stab the worshipers at their morning prayers.
After the stabbing of the young man as he left the synagogue, the officers caught up with the attackers, shooting them and reportedly killing one.
בית שמש: פיגוע דקירה. אדם אחד פצוע. דיווח על 2 מחבלים שנורו (קרדיט: מדברים תקשורת, צופן מצ"ב) pic.twitter.com/oBUszCYDBS
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) October 22, 2015
The attack is the first to hit Beit Shemesh, a city of some 100,000 residents southwest of Jerusalem, in the wave of knife-related terror attacks that has struck Israeli cities since late September.