The Israel Police and Shin Bet security agency announced Wednesday that they had caught the suspected perpetrator of a February 6 terror attack in which a Jewish woman was stabbed in the Bedouin town of Rahat.
The victim, Shlomit Gonen, 65, a grandmother from nearby Kibbutz Mishmar Hanegev, was shopping with family members in the town’s open market. She sustained moderate injuries to her neck in the attack and was hospitalized.
The attacker fled, leading police to launch a manhunt including roadblocks and patrols.
In the end, forensic evidence from the crime scene led to the suspect’s arrest on February 10, statements from the police and Shin Bet said.
The suspect was identified as a 17-year-old from the West Bank village of Yatta, near Hebron. He was arrested in his home, confessed to the attack and took investigators to the site where he said he had abandoned the knife used in the stabbing.
The suspect was illegally residing in Israel and working for a Bedouin family in Rahat at the time of the attack. The family was not aware of his actions and has not been linked to the attack, police said.
The attacker had planned his attack in detail, the Shin Bet said, including reconnoitering the market and planning his escape beforehand.
The Shin Bet said he told investigators he was influenced by television broadcasts of films and propaganda glorifying terror attacks, including on Hamas’s al-Aqsa station.
He had also participated in violent protests against IDF soldiers in recent months, and during the war in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014.
He had entered Israel through gaps in the security fence in the West Bank, aided by Bedouin Israelis who lived in the area.
Officials said an indictment in the case would be filed “within days.”
After the stabbing, local Rahat politicians, including the city’s mayor, condemned the attack and urged security forces to catch the terrorist as soon as possible.
The stabbing came during an upsurge in Palestinian attacks on Israeli, some deadly and many involving knives, in which 28 Israelis and three foreign nationals were killed. Some 171 Palestinians have been killed, about two-thirds of them while carrying out attacks against Israelis. Dozens more died in clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.