The Border Police officer killed in a coordinated stabbing and shooting attack in two areas in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday evening was identified late Friday as Hadas Malka, 23. The three attackers, who were allegedly members of Palestinian terrorist groups, were shot dead in the course of the attacks.
Staff Sergeant Malka was a resident of Moshav Givat Ezer in central Israel. She did her mandatory military service in the Border Police, and then extended her service 15 months ago and became an officer. She leaves behind parents and five siblings, three sisters and two brothers.
Malka was critically injured in a stabbing attack on Sultan Suleiman Street near Damascus Gate on Friday evening. She was transferred to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in Jerusalem where she underwent emergency surgery but later succumbed to her injuries.
She fought her attacker for several seconds while attempting to draw her weapon, according to a Border Police statement. Nearby troops shot and killed the assailant.
According to the Border Police statement, Malka was part of a group of officers responding to sounds of gunfire near their area of patrol close to Damascus Gate, when she was attacked.
The gunfire was coming from an attack seconds earlier in which two assailants attacked Border Police troops with a homemade Carlo-style submachine gun and knives, at Zedekiah’s Cave in the Muslim Quarter. Some reports said the gun used by the attackers jammed, preventing further casualties. The two attackers were killed.
While on her way to the scene, Malka was accosted by a third attacker.
“Hadas fought her attacker for several seconds, while he stabbed her repeatedly and while trying to reach for her weapon,” the statement read.
Nearby troops opened fire and killed the attacker.
At least four more people were injured in the attacks, including another cop. They all sustained light to moderate wounds and were being treated in hospital.
BREAKING: Multiple border police wounded, at least 1 critically after coordinated terror attack by 3 Arabs in Jerusalem. All neutralized. pic.twitter.com/5NpLfM5Hv6
— Israel Breaking (@IsraelBreaking) June 16, 2017
The Shin Bet security service named the three assailants as Adel Ankush, 18, Bra’a Saleh Atta, 19, and Usama Ahmed Atta, 19, all from the West Bank village of Deir Abu-Mash’al near Ramallah.
All three had been arrested for or involved in “popular terror activity,” a Shin Bet statement read.
The attack was carried out by “two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a third from Hamas,” Hamas said early Saturday, dismissing a claim of responsibility by Islamic State.
Israeli officials cast doubt on both claims, saying there was no indication of IS involvement, and that the attack did not appear to have been directed by any group.
An earlier report, citing Palestinian media, incorrectly identified the third attacker as Amar Bedui, 31, from Hebron. He was in fact a passerby who was wounded by gunshots and taken to hospital, Israeli police said.
Security forces were said to be surrounding the village of Deir Abu-Mash’al late Friday to raid the homes of the attackers, the Hebrew-language website Ynet reported. The raids were intended to reveal if the attackers’ family members knew of their intentions to carry out the attack and to determine where the firearm was acquired.
The attack took place as Muslims were marking the end of the third Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan, during which tens of thousands of Palestinians from east Jerusalem and the West Bank attended prayers at the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site.
Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevi said in a briefing with reporters that police suspect they arrived from the West Bank earlier in the day for Ramadan prayers and suggested that at least some of them did not have permits to cross into Israel.
“During Ramadan there are large numbers of (Palestinian) youths who enter without permits, they take advantage of Ramadan to be in Jerusalem,” he told media at the scene of the attack, adding that in some cases “this is what we get,” in reference to the coordinated attack.
Israel last month announced that it was relaxing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, including easier access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, issuing more travel permits and allowing some to travel abroad. The measures were similar to those of previous years.
Over the past 18 months the Old City, and the Damascus Gate in particular, have seen several attacks by Palestinians, and in two cases by Jordanian nationals.
Since September 2015, mainly Palestinian assailants have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans, a Palestinian man and a British student, mainly in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks. In that time, some 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.
The Israeli government has blamed the terrorism and violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders compounded on social media sites that glorify violence and encourage attacks.
The Gaza-based terror group Hamas praised Friday’s attack, saying in a statement Friday evening that “the attack in Jerusalem is new proof that the Palestinian people continue their revolution against the occupiers and that the intifada will continue until complete freedom is achieved.”
Agencies contributed to this report.