PM to cop hurt in Jerusalem attack: You prevented catastrophe
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PM to cop hurt in Jerusalem attack: You prevented catastrophe

Netanyahu praises police unit that killed terrorist on Sunday, losing one of its own members in the process

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to visit the Israelis wounded in Sunday's terror attack. October 10, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to visit the Israelis wounded in Sunday's terror attack. October 10, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday visited a police officer injured in a shootout with a terrorist in Jerusalem the day before, thanking him for “preventing catastrophe.”

The gunman from East Jerusalem killed two people when he opened fire on passersby and those waiting at a light rail stop near Ammunition Hill in the north of the capital on Sunday morning. Levana Malihi, 60, a retired Knesset employee, and police officer First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, were killed in the attack and six others were injured before the gunman was stopped by Kirma’s elite police reconnaissance unit Yasam.

Meeting with the officer on Monday, Netanyahu praised the unit, which he said stopped the terrorist from killing more people.

“This unit is the key to preventing catastrophe, and that’s precisely what happened, you prevented a larger catastrophe,” he said.

After the meeting Netanyahu said, “there is nothing more emotional and uplifting than meeting with our police officers, our heroes.”

“This policeman that I met here is a new immigrant and he only has one thought — how quickly he can get back to his unit and keep serving the people of Israel,” the prime minister added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with police officers injured in a Jerusalem shooting attack at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital on October 10, 2016 (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with police officers injured in a Jerusalem shooting attack at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital on October 10, 2016 (Haim Zach/GPO)

Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy also said Sunday that the police presence in the capital had prevented an even graver attack. The killer, who reportedly used an Israeli army-issue M-16 machine gun, had “lots and lots of ammunition,” he said, and was headed to the center of town, where “he would have killed lots of people.”

Malihi, a grandmother, worked in the Knesset for more than 30 years until her retirement in 2010, the parliament’s spokesman said in a statement. “Veteran workers remember a very warm woman, loved by all, dedicated, caring and modest,” the statement said.

The recently married Kirma, who was decorated after helping to stop a terror attack in December 2015, was killed in the shootout while trying to charge the gunman. “He fearlessly pursued the terrorist in order to neutralize him and prevent further harm to innocent bystanders,” a police statement said.

Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi, 60, left, and police officer First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, who were shot dead in a terror attack in Jerusalem, October 9, 2016. (Police spokesperson)
Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi, 60, left, and police officer First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, who were shot dead in a terror attack in Jerusalem, October 9, 2016. (Police spokesperson)

Netanyahu on Monday also urged Israelis to remain alert in the wake of the attack, warning that the current High Holiday season is a time when terrorists are more motivated to carry out attacks.

Speaking at a small ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office ahead of the upcoming fast of Yom Kippur (he Day of Atonement) and the Sukkot festival, Netanyahu sent condolences to the families of the victims of the shooting attack.

“We know that this is a time when those who fan the flames of terrorism and the inciters try to ignite a conflagration,” he said. “All citizens must be alert, certainly the security forces, who work day and night to protect us and who serve as a buffer and a wall between these murderers and the citizens of Israel.”

Yom Kippur begins at nightfall on Tuesday and the week-long Sukkot holiday starts the following Sunday night. During the course of Sukkot, tens of thousands of visitors are expected to visit Jerusalem.

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