JERUSALEM – A horrific scene unfolded at the entrance to Jerusalem’s walled Old City, where a Palestinian terrorist murdered two Israeli males and injured a 22-year-old woman, along with her two-year-old baby.
An Israeli police spokesperson said the jihadist, identified as 19-year-old law student Mohand Halabi from Ramallah, first stabbed the father of the baby and stole the man’s legally-owned gun, utilizing the weapon to shoot indiscriminately at a group of nearby tourists.
The terrorist also stabbed the first man’s wife and another man numerous times before opening fire on pedestrians nearby. The rampage took place just outside the Lion’s Gate, one of seven open gates in Jerusalem’s Old City walls.
The police here say two men were killed in the attack; a woman in her 40s was in serious condition; and a two-year-old toddler suffered light wounds.
One of the murdered men was identified as being part of the same family as the woman and baby, and according to reports all three were on their way to pray at the Western Wall, a retaining wall at the periphery of the Temple Mount.
Jerusalem police say that after the stabbings, the terrorist used the gun he obtained at the scene to shoot at police officers, who in turn killed Halabi. The officers were reportedly 150 feet from the scene and were alerted to the terrorist attack by a woman who had fled the area.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Halabi wrote he believed that the third Intifada, or so-called Palestinian holy war, had already begun against Israel.
Hamas in turn praised the attack as “heroic.”
“We support and welcome any resistance activity that harms Israeli soldiers and settlers,” Hamas said in a statement. “Our people in the West Bank are ready to die, to sacrifice themselves to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The incident is the latest in a series of seemingly orchestrated Palestinian terrorist attacks and escalations, with many of the violent incidents focused on the Temple Mount.
On Thursday, an Israeli couple was shot dead while driving on a West Bank road, with their four children in the back seat witnessing their parents’ death.
And Palestinians have been engaged in a violent campaign on the Temple Mount for weeks now, attempting to mobilize almost daily to attack Jewish worshipers.
According to Israeli defense officials, the Northern Front of the Islamic Movement continues to mobilize Arab youth to smuggle fire bombs, pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails and stones onto the Temple Mount to attack Jews ascending the site.
Last month, during the Jewish new year holiday of Rosh Hashanah, Israeli police and Muslim activists clashed on the site, and Arab youth barricaded themselves inside the al-Aqsa mosque to protest Jewish visits to the area.
Israeli Police spokesman Micki Rosenfeld told reporters that “two small metal pipe bombs” were found at the al-Aqsa Mosque entrance. Rosenfeld said the police were acting to prevent what would have been a premeditated attack on Jews on Rosh Hashanah.
The most recent round of violence on the Temple Mount began in July, when masked Arabs used the al-Aqsa Mosque to amass stones, Molotov cocktails and other explosives with the intent of attacking Israeli police and Jewish worshipers ascending the holy site.
The plan July 26 was to attack Jewish worshipers as Jews worldwide commemorated the Jewish fast day of Tisha Báv, or the ninth day of the lunar Jewish month of Av. The day marks the anniversary of several major disasters in Jewish history, most notably the destruction of both the First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem.
Just as they did on Rosh Hashanah, Jerusalem police, citing intelligence on the pending Arab riot, headed toward the al-Aqsa Mosque on Tosha Báv, where numerous masked rioters were preparing an attack, in a bid to thwart the violence. The police pushed the attackers inside the mosque and locked the door to secure the area and to allow Jewish worshipers to ascend the site.