Uncle of light rail stabbers: They were set up

East Jerusalem cousins Moawiyah and Ali Alkam, aged 11 and 13, attacked a light rail guard, moderately wounding him

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack on the light rail in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, November 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack on the light rail in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, November 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The uncle of the two Palestinian children who stabbed a light rail guard in Jerusalem on Tuesday said he does not believe that they were involved in the attack.

“We heard that they were part of the stabbing attack but I will tell you the truth, we have no faith in the police. We have already seen in other cases, in Hebron and even in Jerusalem, they make up stories and even killed a Jew they suspected of being an Arab,” Sheikh Abdullah Alkam said Tuesday afternoon, referring to the shooting death of a yeshiva student during a confrontation with troops last month.

“Maybe they planted a knife on them, I don’t know. We want to first check what happened. I’m their eldest uncle and I was to check everything carefully.”

He said the boys studied at the same school and gave their ages as 11 and 13. Palestinian sources named the two as cousins Moawiyah and Ali Alkam. One is from the Shuafat refugee camp and the other from nearby Beit Hanina, both in East Jerusalem.

While expressing doubt that they were the stabbers, the uncle seemed to justify attacks by young Palestinians living in poverty in East Jerusalem.

“They see how soldiers act at checkpoints, they see how nice it is in Pisgat Ze’ev and French Hill,” he said, referring to two Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. “And what do they have? There isn’t even a garbage truck. The streets look like hell. A hundred thousand people without normal services living in harsh conditions.”

The security guard, who was moderately wounded in the attack in Pisgat Ze’ev, managed to fire his weapon toward the two attackers, wounding the 11-year-old.

Passengers on the light rail subdued the second attacker until police officers arrived at the scene and took him into custody.

The guard suffered stab wounds to the upper body, according to the Magen David Adom rescue service.

“I saw that the train had stopped and on the scene there were large numbers of police officers and security guards,” David Dalfan, a paramedic, said.

“A young man, approximately 24 years old, was lying on the ground next to the curb. He was fully conscious with superficial stab wounds. We quickly gave him first aid and loaded him onto an ambulance,” Dalfan said.

The guard’s condition was stable, according to the paramedics on the scene. He was evacuated to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital.

The attacker who had been shot by the guard was also treated by paramedics before he was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, police said. He was in serious condition, unconscious and on a ventilator, the hospital said.

“The swift and determined response by the light rail guard and the passengers prevented the injury of other innocent people,” said Avi Cohen, the captain of the nearby police station.

Judah Ari Gross and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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