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Arab assailant opens fire on bus station, Israeli soldier killed

A wounded Israeli policeman is evacuated from the scene of an attack in Beersheba, Israel, on Sunday. The Israeli police said one Israeli was killed and several others were wounded in a shooting attack at a bus station in southern Israel. The attacker was also killed.  

An Arab attacker armed with a gun and a knife opened fire in a southern Israel bus station on Sunday, police said, killing an Israeli soldier and wounding 10 people in one of the boldest attacks yet in a month-long wave of violence.

The attack came as Israel further tightened security around the country, highlighted by the construction of a barrier separating Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem. In a bid to halt the fighting, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he would meet the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the coming days.

Heavy police deployment

Israel has deployed thousands of police, backed up by troops, to maintain order following a spate of attacks, mostly stabbings, by Palestinian assailants. Those measures have so far failed to stop the violence.

In Sunday night’s attack, police said the Arab assailant entered the central bus station in the southern city of Beersheba and began shooting and stabbing people. They said an Israeli soldier was killed, five police were lightly wounded and five civilians were wounded to varying degrees.

Attacker gunned down

Yoram Halevy, a police commander in southern Israel, told reporters that in addition to the knife and gun he entered with, the attacker also snatched a weapon from the soldier he killed. The attacker, whose identity was not immediately known, was shot and killed.

A foreigner was shot by the police during the attack after they apparently mistook him for an assailant. Mr. Halevy said security forces responding to the attack entered the bus station from another area and saw a “foreign national,” shooting and wounding him.

Israeli media said the foreigner was an Eritrean national living in Israel.

Israeli media showed footage of a blood-streaked floor and rows of ambulances outside the bus station.

Civilian shooting

Security camera footage from the bus station aired on Israeli TV showed what appeared to be a civilian shooting the attacker as soldiers and civilians crouched for cover nearby.

The attack was one of the most serious incidents amid near-daily bouts of violence that have hit Israel and the Palestinian territories over the past month. After the attack, a crowd of Israelis gathered outside the bus station and chanted “death to Arabs.”

The unrest erupted in Jerusalem a month ago over tensions surrounding a Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims. It soon spread to Arab neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem and then to the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

Near-daily attacks

Israel has struggled to contain near-daily attacks by Palestinian assailants. Authorities have blocked roads and placed checkpoints at the entrances of Palestinian neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem. Other security measures include ID checks and requiring some Palestinian residents to lift their shirts and roll up pant legs as they exit their neighbourhoods to prove they are not carrying knives. Soldiers have been deployed in Jerusalem and cities across Israel.


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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 10:20:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/arab-assailant-opens-fire-on-bus-station-israeli-soldier-killed/article7779902.ece

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