Shlomi Madar added the heavy wooden saucer to the growing list of obscure objects used to subdue (or just slow down) terrorists over the past two years, when he went after a stabber outside his pizzeria in Petah Tikva, outside Tel Aviv, late Monday morning.
“I heard screams coming from the shwarma shop two stores down and I immediately understood what was happening,” Madar, 24, told The Times of Israel Monday, hours after the incident.
Just feet away, a 21-year-old Palestinian from Qalqilya stabbed an Arab bus driver whom he apparently mistook for a Jew. Israel Police spokeswoman Luba Samri classified the crime as nationalist — code for a terror attack.
An employee at the shwarma shop described the early minutes of the incident to the Ynet news site. “A man came in and ordered shwarma. There was nothing out of the ordinary about his behavior. Afterward an Egged driver who eats with us regularly came in. He placed his order and went over to the refrigerator to take a soft drink. As I was preparing his order another driver came in and I suddenly heard him shout, ‘Terror attack, terror attack!’”
After gashing the neck of his first victim, the assailant continued toward Pizza Nepolita. “When he ran in front of my shop and I saw the knife, I quickly swung down the counter-top so he couldn’t get to me,” said Madar, who was alone in the restaurant at the time.
The attacker tried three times to swipe at him, but Madar dodged each attempt and the knife only nicked the wooden countertop. “At that point, I picked up the pizza platter and slammed it into his nose as hard as I could. He fell backward, dropped the knife and started running away.”
Madar said he ran after the stabber, who was tackled a block away by two pedestrians who had been waiting at a traffic light.
But Madar, from nearby Rosh Ha’ayin, said he wasn’t convinced the attack had ended, and he ran back to the pizza parlor to see if there was a second attacker. “Thankfully, the event was over and nobody else got hurt,” he said.
The lone victim was treated by Magen David Adom paramedics and evacuated to Petah Tikva’s Rabin Medical Center with moderate to severe injuries.
The Shin Bet domestic security agency said the attacker, whose name was not immediately cleared for publication, had served in an Israeli prison between 2015 and 2016, for violent activity against Israel.
According to reports, the assailant told police investigators that he had carried out the attack in response to Israel’s actions at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem. “I did it for Al-Aqsa,” he reportedly said.
For his part, Madar recognized how lucky he was to have survived the attack. “Had it not been for the counter-top, I don’t know if I would still be here,” he said.
Ironically, Madar said, he had the surface installed less than two months ago, after a drunk customer, unwilling to pay for his meal, pulled a knife on him. “While I didn’t need to use a pizza platter, that guy’s fate was similar to today’s terrorist,” he said, smiling.
Israel and the West Bank have been on edge amid the spiraling tensions at the Temple Mount and after a weekend of deadly violence.
Clashes broke out after Israel installed metal detectors at the entrances to the compound. Israeli authorities say the metal detectors are needed following a shooting attack by three Arab Israelis on July 14, who killed two policemen using weapons they had smuggled into the holy site.
Five Palestinians have been killed during violent riots over the new measures.
On Friday, a Palestinian broke into a home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish and stabbed three Israelis to death, leading to fears of a new outbreak of terror attacks.