An American tourist was killed and at least 10 people were injured Tuesday evening when a Palestinian man carried out a stabbing spree in Jaffa. Five of the injured were described as being in critical condition.
The terrorist stabbed his victims in at least three locations in an attack that lasted some 20 minutes.
The attacker was shot dead by police after a chase from the Jaffa Port along the Tel Aviv beach promenade. Police said he was a 21-year-old man from the West Bank Palestinian refugee camp in Qalqiliya.
After the attack, police sought to dispel rumors that a second attacker was at large.
Graphic footage from the scene of the attack appeared to show a policeman shooting one round at the stabber as he lay on the ground, with civilians cheering and urging him and other officers to aim for his head.
The Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv confirmed one victim, a 29-year-old American tourist, arrived at the hospital dead, and one other was being treated in the trauma unit in critical condition. The tourist’s wife was severely injured in the attack, according to Zaki Heller, spokesperson for the Magen David Adom ambulance service.
The American fatality was later identified as 29-year-old Taylor Force, from Lubbock, Texas, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University.
Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said it received six victims, one in critical condition, two in moderate condition and two suffering from lighter wounds. The hospital’s medical director confirmed that one of the victims was a pregnant woman. Another of the victims was an Arab Israeli — Jaffa is a mixed city with a sizable Arab population — and one a Palestinian man who was residing in Israel illegally, police reported.
Police said the attacker first stabbed three people along the Jaffa boardwalk, a popular site for shopping and leisure, before fleeing slightly inland toward the city’s Kikar Hasha’on, where he stabbed three more people. He then went on to stab at least four people near the Dolphinarium on the border with Tel Aviv.
Video footage showed the attacker running along the beach promenade attempting to stab drivers waiting in traffic. One man slowed down the attacker by hitting him with a guitar he was holding, he told Channel 2, holding aloft the broken instrument.
Jaffa had not previously seen any stabbing attacks in the recent wave of terror. Police announced they would step up their presence in the city and in Tel Aviv following the incident.
The attack took place as US Vice President Joe Biden, who landed in Israel Tuesday afternoon for a two-day visit, was at the Peres Peace Center, a 15-minute walk from the scene of the attack in Jaffa. The leaders heard ambulances rushing to the scene as they met.
It was the third serious attack of the day, coming on the heels of a stabbing in Petah Tikva and a shooting in Jerusalem.
One Israeli man was injured on Petah Tikva’s central Baron Hirsch Street when a Palestinian assailant followed him into a shop and stabbed him several times in the upper body. The victim managed to remove the knife from his neck and used it to stab and kill his attacker, aided by the store owner, police said.
Minutes later, two Israeli Border Police officers were seriously injured, with one of them described as “critical,” in a drive-by shooting attack on Salah a-Din Street, near Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate. The gunman, riding a motorcycle, opened fire at the officers, striking one in the head. As he attempted to escape the scene, security forces engaged him in a firefight, during which he shot the second officer, police said. The shooter was killed.
The Hamas terror group released a statement praising the attacks as “heroic operations” and saying they prove that the wave of violence that began in October has not ended.
“Hamas celebrates the martyrs that have ascended through these operations, and confirms that their pure blood will, God willing, be the fuel for escalating the intifada,” the group wrote on its website.
Before Tuesday, twenty-nine Israelis and three foreign nationals had been killed in a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence since October. Nearly 170 Palestinians have also been killed, some two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis, and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.
Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.