The Palestinian man who stabbed to death a British woman on a Jerusalem tram on Friday was on his way home from a mental care facility, police said.
According to police, 57-year-old Jamil Tamimi left the hospital in northern Israel and was traveling toward his house in East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amoud neighborhood on the capital’s light rail system.
As the train approached IDF Square, outside the Old City, shortly before 1:00 p.m., Tamimi “noticed the young woman standing next to him, crouched, took out a knife from his bag and stabbed her a number of times,” police said.
The victim was later named as Hannah Bladon, a 21-year-old British exchange student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Bladon was fatally wounded in the attack.
Medics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service performed CPR on the woman at the scene before taking her to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, where she was eventually pronounced dead, a hospital spokesperson said.
According to the Shin Bet security service, Tamimi had a history of mental illness. He tried to commit suicide earlier this year by swallowing a razor blade. And he was found guilty of sexually abusing his daughter in 2011.
“This is another case, out of many, where a Palestinian who is suffering from personal, mental or moral issues chooses to carry out a terror attack in order to find a way out of their problems,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
After stabbing her, Tamimi was subdued, without gunfire, by an off-duty police officer and a civilian.
“I was traveling on the light rail with my family. Suddenly I heard people shouting, ‘Terror attack! terror attack!’ I hit the handbrake and ran toward the scene. I tackled the terrorist and ‘neutralized’ him so he couldn’t continue hurting innocent people,” the officer said.
Jerusalem Police Chief Yoram Halevi praised the officer’s quick response, saying it prevented additional casualties, considering the light rail was full of people at the time of the attack.
“Jerusalem police are prepared at all times to respond immediately to any event, especially terror attacks,” he said.
After he was subdued, Tamimi was hauled out of the train by a number of police officers and was taken into custody.
In addition to Bladon, two other people were lightly injured as a result of the attack. A pregnant woman fell when the train came to a sudden halt, and a man hurt his leg while trying to run from the scene, medics said.
Security forces have been on high alert over the Passover and Easter holidays when hundreds of thousands of people visit Jerusalem. The army imposed a closure on the West Bank for the duration of the holidays.
The attack occurred near IDF Square in the capital, along Jaffa Road, right near the walls of the Old City which was packed with Good Friday pilgrims and Jews celebrating Passover
Following the attack, the Border Police shut down the nearby Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City, but it was later reopened.
Tamimi’s knife was recovered from the scene by police.
Though a marked drop has been recorded by security officials in recent months, 41 Israelis, two Americans, a Palestinian and an Eritrean national have been killed in the spate of stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks that began a year and a half ago.
Israeli officials have said that many of the attackers have done so due to personal problems, with some hoping to commit suicide by cop or soldier.
According to AFP figures, some 250 Palestinians, a Jordanian and a Sudanese migrant have also been killed, most of them in the course of carrying out attacks, Israel says, and many of the others in clashes with troops in the West Bank and at the Gaza border, as well as in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks.
The spate of Palestinian attacks that began in October 2015 was dubbed the “lone wolf” intifada, as many of the attacks were carried out by individuals who were not connected to any terror group.