ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Seriously hurt victim stable after Ma’ale Adumim attack; 4 others still in hospital

Survivor of 2016 attack unwittingly transported Palestinian terrorist home, where he armed up; gunman’s father reportedly begged community center where he worked to hire son too

Police at the scene of a terror attack in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, outside of Jerusalem, August 1, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Police at the scene of a terror attack in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, outside of Jerusalem, August 1, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Five of the six Israelis injured in a terror attack in the West Bank settlement city of Ma’ale Adumim on Tuesday remained in the hospital as of Wednesday morning, including one in serious condition who underwent surgery during the night.

According to law enforcement officials, the Palestinian terrorist opened fire at a group of people, including diners at a burger restaurant, injuring six in a plaza outside a main shopping mall in the settlement. He was shot dead by an off-duty police officer while attempting to flee the scene.

The seriously injured victim underwent surgery overnight and remains in serious but stable condition, Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center said in a statement Wednesday.

Another victim is in moderate but stable condition and remains hospitalized for treatment, while a lightly injured victim was released from the hospital Tuesday evening, the statement said.

The other three wounded in the attack, among them a 14-year-old boy, are in light-to-moderate condition at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus.

The terrorist was identified by the Shin Bet security agency as 20-year-old Mohannad Muhammad Suleiman al-Mazra’a, from the nearby West Bank town of al-Azariya.

The Shin Bet said al-Mazra’a, who worked as a cleaner at a local community center in Ma’ale Adumim, had a permit to work in West Bank settlements, though not on the Israeli side of the Green Line.

In an unverified recording circulating on Palestinian social media and attributed to al-Mazra’a, the speaker claims to not be affiliated with any faction.

The father of the terrorist, who also worked for the community center, had begged them to hire his son, according to a report by the Ynet news site.

Al-Mazra’a complained that he was feeling ill on Tuesday and got a lift from a volunteer at the center, Tzvika Cohen, back to al-Azariya, where he armed himself. He later returned to the settlement to carry out the attack.

Cohen, who survived a terrorist axe attack while guarding a mall in the settlement in 2016, told Ynet that he had had no idea his passenger intended to carry out an attack.

“Two hours later, I was next to the hamburger restaurant and I heard gunfire, and after a while, it became clear to me that it was the worker I drove,” he said.

“It immediately brought everything back, all the moments from the terror attack in which I was injured. It was very traumatic. I can’t stop crying. I don’t know what would have happened, again, if he had drawn a knife or gun and shot me… I can’t believe that he was in my car,” he added.

Tzvika Cohen, who survived a terror axe attack in 2016. (Facebook)

Footage showed the terrorist, wearing a fluorescent yellow vest, opening fire at people from within bushes behind a bus stop, then fleeing down a road, where he was shot by the Border Police officer.

Police said the officer, who was about to get a haircut at a nearby barbershop, heard gunfire and shouting. He rushed to the scene to search for the terrorist, who had fled.

Speaking with Channel 12, the unidentified, off-duty Border cop said he had arrived at the barbershop when he heard the gunshots and saw people running. He rushed to the scene and saw the attacker. “At first I wasn’t sure if he was the terrorist, but I cocked my weapon and yelled at him to freeze. He didn’t and started shooting at me,” the officer said, adding that he quickly returned fire and neutralized the attacker.

The terrorist allegedly recorded his “will” as a 95-second voice note before committing the shooting attack.

In the audio file, whose origin could not be independently verified, the man quoted several Quranic verses and hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), saying that if he dies “in the name of Allah” and the Israelis take his body, “it won’t matter.” He demanded that when he is buried, no funeral be held for him and no name be engraved on his tombstone.

The Border Police officer who shot dead a terrorist in Ma’ale Adumim on August 1, 2023 alongside Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (L). (Israel Police)

Early Wednesday morning, thousands of Jews — including several far-right coalition MKs and ministers — prayed for the victims’ recovery while visiting the Joseph’s Tomb site near Nablus. Palestinian media reported some clashes between local Palestinians and the military during the visit.

On Tuesday, the deputy mayor of Ma’ale Adumim said the West Bank settlement city would bar the entry of Palestinian workers until further notice, following the terror attack.

Several hours after the shooting attack in a separate incident, a Palestinian man allegedly attempted to stab Israeli soldiers in the southern West Bank and then was shot, the military said.

After the Ma’ale Adumim attack, a group of youths boarded buses from the settlement to Jerusalem and shouted racist slogans including “Death to Arabs” at the bus drivers, many of whom are Arabs.

The drivers stopped the buses on the side of the road, and the youths dismounted and threw objects at the vehicles. Police opened an investigation into the incident, the Ynet news site reported.

Tensions have remained high in the West Bank, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have killed 25 people since the beginning of the year.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 162 West Bank Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year — most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances.

Emanuel Fabian, Gianluca Pacchiani and Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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