An Israeli man who shot an armed Palestinian who attempted to infiltrate the West Bank settlement of Tekoa in the Etzion bloc on Sunday night was drinking tea with his wife when he spotted the would-be attacker climbing the security fence a few meters away.
Yair Maimon did not hesitate, he said, quickly rushing his family inside and grabbing his M16 rifle, which he possessed as a civilian member of the settlement’s security team.
“We were sitting on the porch, on the western side of Tekoa. Suddenly, within that serene landscape, we spot a face, a person climbing the fence right in front of us,” Maimon said in an interview with Radio 103FM Monday morning.
“That made us jump right out of our chairs,” he said. “I shouted toward him, ‘Stop, who is that?’ He mumbled something unclear and continued climbing. From that moment, we realized it was a terrorist attack.”
The incident came shortly after a Palestinian man who had illegally entered Israel stabbed a police officer in the neck at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate. Tensions have risen sharply between Israel and the Palestinians in recent months, against a backdrop of a spate of terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have left 19 people dead since March 22.
Security camera footage showed the attacker vaulting Tekoa’s perimeter fence and then running into the town.
Maimon said that his wife, Merav, was the one who alerted the settlement’s security team to the incident.
“I ran inside to grab my weapon, I cocked it and continued toward the door, when I realized I had to alert security forces that there’s a terrorist here, but I couldn’t do that, so I asked Merav to make the call,” he said.
When he made it outside, Maimon realized that the terrorist had managed to outflank him. Turning around, he encountered the terrorist waving his knife toward him and shot him at point-blank range, right outside his home.
“Did you shoot him? Did you hit him,” Merav can be heard asking him in a video taken by their daughter Roni, 13, who filmed the entire incident on her phone.
Roni can be heard mumbling the word “Die” before bursting into tears.
Maimon said Roni witnessed the entire scene from her bedroom window. “She saw the whole thing, she saw the terrorist outflank me and come from behind. She couldn’t help,” he said.
Asked how the community in Tekoa was coping with the incident, Maimon said his neighbors were “very much aware of the threats but not living in fear.”
“We’re confident, we trust the security establishment and ourselves,” he said, adding that “when facing such terror we need to know how to prevent similar incidents from happening again.”
Unfortunately, Maimon said, “the settlement’s fence is only three meters away from my home… Despite the fence being a deterrent, it doesn’t help in any way. By the time we send out an alert, [the terrorist] is already inside.”
On Monday, Maimon uploaded a picture to his Facebook page of his wife and himself sipping coffee on their porch with the caption “Waiting for the next terrorist,” alongside a winking emoji.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked called Maimon a hero who acted “exactly as expected” in such a scenario.
“Well done to a Tekoa resident, a hero, who prevented a terrible disaster, protected his family, and took action in order to end this incident exactly as expected — by eliminating the terrorist. I call on anyone who is able to carry a weapon to do so, in order to strengthen our security forces. Together we will win,” she said.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry identified the dead Palestinian assailant as 17-year-old Muatasem Mohammad Taleb Atallah. According to the ministry, Atallah was from Harmala, a small village adjacent to Tekoa.
Atallah was later claimed by Hamas as a member, although the terror group did not explicitly order him to commit an attack.
⭕حركة المقاومة الإسلامية حماس ابنها الشهيد معتصم محمد عطا الله
الذي ارتقى مساء يوم الأحد 08/5/2022 برصاص الاحتلال داخل مستوطنة "تكواع" قرب بلدة تقوع- بيت لحم. pic.twitter.com/Eb9UE3LCUi
— صوت الأقصى (@Alaqsavoice) May 8, 2022
Tobias Siegal, Emanuel Fabian and Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.