An elderly woman was killed and 17 people were injured, including at least seven children and teenagers, in a car-ramming and stabbing attack by two Palestinian terrorists in the central Israel city of Ra’anana early on Monday afternoon.
During the attack, the perpetrators — two West Bank Palestinians who were working in Israel illegally — seized three vehicles and rammed pedestrians in several locations in the city, also stabbing one or more of their victims, according to police, medics, and eyewitnesses.
Meir Hospital said a woman in her 70s, who arrived in critical condition, succumbed to her wounds. She was later named as Edna Bluestein, 79, from Ra’anana.
The two suspects were named as Ahmed Zidat, 25, and Mahmoud Zidad, 44, both residents of the southern West Bank town of Bani Naim, close to Hebron. According to the Shin Bet, both had been blacklisted for entering Israel illegally numerous times in the past.
The attack began at about 1:30 p.m., as schools were dismissing students for the day.
According to reports, one of the terrorists attacked a woman driving a black jeep on the city’s Haharoshet Street, pulled her out of the car, and rammed it into three people.
The terrorist then got stuck and abandoned the car, before stealing a second vehicle and continuing down the street, ramming into more people.
“It all happened in a second,” a passerby who witnessed the start of the attack told Army Radio.
“We heard the noise of a crash, like a car bumping into another car,” Eden Arzi said. “We saw the driver go to stab a woman and she ran away, and [the driver] went and stabbed a 60-year-old man while there were a bunch of screams in the background, until he fell on the ground.”
Another witness told Haaretz: “I saw someone stab three people next to the mall, steal a car and run people over with it.”
The second terrorist, meanwhile, stabbed a woman driving a white car on the city’s central Ahuza Street, lightly injuring her, commandeered the car and rammed into numerous other people, before crashing into an electricity pole near a bus stop and fleeing on foot. The woman who later died of her injuries was hit in this incident, reports said, as were several children and teenagers.
Casualties from the attack were taken to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and the adjacent Schneider Children’s Medical Center.
Magen David Adom said that the injured included at least two in serious condition — a man aged 34 and a 16-year-old boy — along with nine in moderate condition, and six who sustained light wounds.
Seven children and teenagers were brought to Schneider in moderate condition, some of them having been transferred from Beilinson Hospital, where they were initially taken.
Ichilov Hospital said two victims of the attack arrived at the hospital, both men in moderate condition and suffering from orthopedic injuries. One of the men was in his 40s and the other in his 20s, the hospital said.
The head of the police’s Central District, Deputy Commissioner Avi Bitton, said the attack was carried out by two Palestinian relatives from the Hebron area of the West Bank who had recently been working in the city’s industrial zone. They were in the country illegally.
Both the suspects were under arrest and being questioned, Bitton said, adding that the first was apprehended very quickly and the second a few minutes later.
The pair were taken to be interrogated by the Shin Bet.
“This was a very grave terror attack,” Bitton said, adding that the police were not ruling out other suspects and were continuing to search the wider area.
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai praised the rapid and professional police response, including the closing off of the area.
Police and the Shin Bet security agency were jointly investigating.
Reports later Monday said the two suspects were cousins who had been working at a car wash in the city for the past three days. The owner of the car wash was apparently unaware that they were in Israel illegally, Channel 12 news reported, and had no idea they were planning a terror attack.
One of them reportedly told the Shin Bet that “when the war in Gaza started,” they “decided to carry out an attack and become martyrs… Initially, we intended to stab Jews, but then we decided to run over as many Jews as possible.”
Violence in the West Bank has soared since Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw thousands of terrorists burst across the border from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages — mainly civilians. In response to the deadliest attack in the country’s history, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas from the Gaza Strip, where the terror group has ruled since 2007, and return the hostages.
Since October 7, troops have arrested more than 2,650 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,300 affiliated with Hamas. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, some 300 West Bank Palestinians have been killed in that time. Based on military estimates, the vast majority of those killed since October 7 were shot during clashes amid arrest raids.