JERUSALEM, Israel – Three attacks by Palestinians in the space of just over an hour and a half have left one dead and at least 13 injured across Israel, in incidents that included a mass stabbing in Jaffa during a visit by the US vice-president, Joe Biden.
Israeli police later confirmed that the person killed in the coastal city next to Tel Aviv was a 29-year-old American tourist who was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital in Holon. There were no details on the American’s identity.
In the spate of attacks on Tuesday evening – in East Jerusalem, Petah Tikva and Jaffa – attackers used guns and knives against both Israeli police and passersby. It was one of the worst days of violence in several months of almost daily attacks.
In the worst incident, a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis near Jaffa’s port before attacking three more near a popular restaurant on the city’s promenade.
According to reports, victims were stabbed at three locations during the 20-minute attack as the assailant ran several hundred meters along the seafront. Among those seriously injured was the US tourist’s wife.
Video footage from the scene appeared to show a man in dark trousers and a grey hooded top running beside a traffic jam, apparently attempting to stab occupants through an open car window.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service said four of the wounded in the Jaffa incident had severe injuries.
A witness, identified as Yosef, told the Ynet news website: “The terrorist, who was young and wearing a hoodie, came from the Jaffa port area. Once he was on the boardwalk, he attacked a tourist couple. The woman was stabbed several times, tried to flee, and fell.
“The terrorist then continued to stab the man, and stabbed him in the leg. I was in my car. I ran to him, took the aluminum pylon, and hit the terrorist in the back. He tried to stab me, then he ran.”
A second witness added: “I was in my office and I heard screams. I saw a young man wearing a hoodie who was attacking a woman. She was a tourist. There were screams and then a man carrying an aluminum rod ran towards them.”
“I heard two guys screaming that there was an attack,” said a woman, who gave her name as Emily. “I ran in the opposite direction and ran into a man who was on the ground in his blood. I covered him with my jacket. He was badly injured and we waited together for the ambulances to come.”
The assailant, later identified as a 22-year-old Palestinian man from Qalqiliya, was shot dead by police as he tried to flee towards neighboring Tel Aviv. Hospital officials later reported that one of those stabbed had died of their injuries.
The series of assaults began with an attack on an ultra-orthodox man who was stabbed in Petah Tikvah. The victim and the shop’s owner managed to overpower the attacker, who was reportedly stabbed to death with his own weapon.
In another attack shortly afterwards, a gunman opened fire on Israeli police in Salah e-Din Street in East Jerusalem, seriously injuring two officers before he was killed himself.
Police later identified the gunman as Fouad Tamimi, 25, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya.
The latest attacks come after months of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories in which 183 Palestinians and 28 Israelis have been killed since October.
The latest attacks was welcomed by Hamas, although the Islamist group which governs Gaza did not claim direct responsibility.
The latest incidents of violence prompted political opponents of Netanyahu to criticize the Israeli prime minister’s handling of the months-long crisis.
Tzipi Livni, co-leader of the Zionist Union party and a former peace negotiator and foreign minister, said: “The terror wave will not subside on its own.”