Stabbed in the face and shoulder, woman fought off her Gazan attacker

The father of Yael, from Sde Avraham on the Gaza border, describes how she saved herself and her children from attack by a knife-wielding Palestinian who broke into her home

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

A hole in the fence of a community in the Eshkol region through which a Palestinian attacker entered, Monday (photo credit: Channel 2 screen capture)
A hole in the fence of a community in the Eshkol region through which a Palestinian attacker entered, Monday (photo credit: Channel 2 screen capture)

A knife-wielding intruder broke into a woman’s home early Monday morning in a community in the Eshkol border region and was fought off by a tenacious mother protecting her four children. Later in the day, the mother, Yael — who was only identified by her first name and who was lightly injured in the attack — had her version of the story related to Ynet by her father.

The intruder, a Palestinian man who apparently infiltrated Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, broke into Yael’s home in Sde Avraham at 4 a.m., armed with a crowbar and a knife. Upon entering the master bedroom where Yael and her 2- and 4-year-old children slept, the man reportedly attempted to attack the woman. But Yael confronted her assailant, and during the ensuing life-and-death struggle she was stabbed in the face and shoulder. She nonetheless succeeded in repelling the attacker, and ushered her children into the house’s safe room.

The armed man threw various household objects at Yael, including a mirror which shattered. She was able, however, to shove the attacker into the adjacent bathroom and bar the door with the bed.

“While the attacker was in the bathroom, she managed to call her neighbor, who was [on the community’s] security detail, and her husband, who serves [in the IDF],” Yael’s father told Ynet. The intruder climbed out of the bathroom window and fled the scene.

“He realized that he couldn’t overpower her and that she’s strong and determined,” he said.

IDF troops and police who arrived moments later chased the man to a nearby greenhouse and attempted to detain him. When the suspect failed to halt when ordered, he was shot and killed.

Troops combing the area, in the Shalom bloc of the Eshkol region, also found a hole in the border fence with Gaza which was apparently connected to the incident.

The IDF later stated that the Palestinian man cut through the Israeli border fence undetected, and said it was investigating why the electronic fence and IDF surveillance did not notice his entry to Israel.

The man had no identifying papers on his body.

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The past several months have seen several terrorist incidents originating from the Gaza and Sinai areas, mostly involving cross-border shootings.

The border area had quieted down after August, when Egyptian troops began a broad offensive in the Sinai Peninsula aimed at cracking down on terror groups operating freely in the area.

Sde Avraham, sitting at the confluence of the Gaza and Sinai borders, absorbed several rockets during the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Joshua Davidovich contributed to this report.

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