Monday, January 18, 2016

18-Jan-16: Multiple Arab-on-Israeli attacks and a Jewish mother is murdered at her front door

Kiryat Moshe's Harav Reines Street in Jerusalem [Google Maps]
Sunday was a hard day here, and made harder still by the way life-and-death events affecting Israelis are being routinely swept under the carpet or simply ignored by the vast swathes of the global news-reporting industry.

The day's first notable violence came early Sunday morning here in Jerusalem. What could easily have become a repeat of a terrible tragedy that struck this city 14 months ago ["19-Nov-14: In the wake of Tuesday's murderous attack on Jewish worshipers in Jerusalem"] was averted. The line between what might have been and what was, and the impact on many lives, is terrifyingly thin.

Three Palestinian Arab men were stopped and arrested outside the Heichal Yaakov synagogue on Harav Reines Street in the capital's Kiryat Moshe quarter soon after dawn - peak hour in many synagogues - after arousing suspicions among people who watch for precisely such threats. The three turned out to be armed with crude but lethal knives and according to an Israel National News report
are believed to have planned to carry out an attack on the synagogue as it was packed with worshipers attending morning prayers.
After interrogating them, the police say they are open to a far milder interpretation: that the weapons were for car-theft purposes, but that the investigation remains ongoing [Times of Israel, January 17, 2016].

The would-be knife-attacker: Unharmed though
her lethal intentions were thwarted,
perhaps postponed
A stabbing attack was thwarted at the western entrance to Kiryat Arba, near Hebron a little later in the day. A Palestinian Arab woman - named in Arab media as Nivin Muhsin al-Jaabari, and said to be 18,.was intercepted with a knife secreted in her handbag. Forced at gunpoint to crouch on the road and remove her coat, her concealed weapon was revealed, and she was arrested; no one was hurt.

Another attempted stabbing attack took place during Sunday afternoon at the Samaria Regional Brigade Junction, better known here as Bahad 3. Wikipedia explains that Bahad [in Hebrew: בה"ד‎] stands for Basis Hadrakha meaning training base. There are several Bahads around the country; Bahad 3 is a school for infantry.

Alert soldiers opened fire before he could harm any of his intended victims. The attacker is now dead. An Associated Press bulletin names him as Wissam Qasrawi, 21, from a village called Mesilyeh near Jenin.

By far the most serious of today's Arab-on-Israeli violence is the murder of an Israeli woman, the mother of six children, in a horrific stabbing attack at the door of her home in Otniel, a town in southern Har Hevron.

The victim of today's murder in Otniel, and her husband
We now know the murdered woman is Dafna Meir, 39 (though it's striking that her name is absent from many of the non-Israeli news reports - like that of AP - that mentioned the killing). She was a hospital nurse who, with her husband, adopted two children to add to the four to whom she gave birth.

Her killer is on the loose, and a major manhunt is now underway. Says the BBC, without ever resorting the use of the word "terror":
Security forces are hunting for the attacker using helicopters and military vehicles.
Roadblocks have been set up, residents were told to lock themselves inside their homes and flares lit the night sky as the manhunt went on.
Witnesses to the attack, quoted by Israel National News, say the killer worked in the town "and used his familiarity with the community to carry out the attack." From other sources, we understand he worked in construction. His victim will be remembered as a woman of principles and constructive activism - as well as fierce and heroic determination:
Initial investigations indicated that Meir wrestled with the attacker in an effort to protect the three of her children who were in the home during the attack. The stabber fled the scene without continuing the attack and before he could reach the children. Media reports said her teenage daughter witnessed the attack and described the terrorist to authorities... [Times of Israel, January 17, 2016]
Mrs Meir, of blessed memory, will be laid to rest later today (Monday) in Jerusalem's Har Hamenuchot cemetery, just a short walk from Kiryat Moshe where Sunday's violence began.

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