British woman stabbed to death in Jerusalem
Attack on 25-year-old on train carried out by Palestinian with mental health issues
Emergency services and police at the scene of the stabbing in Jerusalem, Israel. Photograph: Mahmoud Illean/AP Photo
A British woman student was stabbed to death on Jerusalem’s light rail system on Friday.
The 23-year-old Jewish student, in Israel on a tourist visa, was stabbed repeatedly as the light rail entered the centre of Jerusalem opposite the walls of the historic old city. After receiving emergency first aid she was rushed to hospital where she died of her wounds.
She was later named as Hannah Bladon by Israel’s ambassador to the UK Mark Regev.
The assailant was named as Jamil Tamimi (57) from the east Jerusalem Palestinian neighbourhood of Ras el-Amud. The Palestinian was apprehended by security guards and police shortly after the stabbing.
The Israel Security Agency (the Shin Bet) revealed that Mr Tamimi had attempted suicide. In 2011, he was convicted of sexually assaulting his daughter.
“This is another incident of many in which a Palestinian suffering from mental health or personal issues has chosen to carry out an attack as a way out of his problems,” the agency said.
Two other passengers, including a pregnant woman, were also hurt when the tram made an emergency stop following the attack.
The tram closed down and police closed the Damascus gate entrance to the old city for a few hours after the stabbing.
The incident occurred when security in Jerusalem was at a very high level with tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims in the old city for Good Friday along with Jews celebrating the week-long Passover festival. The attack occurred shortly after the end of Muslim Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa mosque on the old city’s Temple Mount, revered by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif.
Although it has been a relatively quiet period over the last few months, Palestinians from the West Bank were prevented from entering Israel during Passover as part of the security operation. The Israeli authorities had warned that militant groups, particularly Hamas, might try to carry out attacks over the holiday period although they said there was no specific warning ahead of Friday’s stabbing.
Jerusalem’s light rail system passes through both Jewish and Palestinian areas and has been championed as an example of coexistence by Jerusalem’s mayor Nir Barkat. Police have made strenuous efforts to stop incidents of stone-throwing aimed at carriages as the rail passed through Palestinian neighbourhoods. A number of planned stabbings have also been thwarted since the system began operating in 2011.