A terrifying knife attack on a Tel Aviv, Israel, bus Wednesday morning left 12 people injured and a Palestinian man described as a “lone wolf terrorist” in the custody of Israeli authorities after a prison guard, who happened by coincidence to be passing by, shot the alleged attacker in the leg as he tried to run away.
“The terrorist stabbed the bus driver several times but the driver fought back until he fled on foot and was neutralized by a guard from the prisons’ service,” said a Tel Aviv police statement.
Palestinian media praised the attack, even publishing editorial cartoons celebrating the knife-wielding bus attacker.
While no fatalities have yet been reported from the attack on Tel Aviv’s Number 40 bus, reports out of Israel say that 12 bus riders were injured during the morning commute in Tel Aviv, Israel’s second-largest city and the country’s bustling hub of business and finance.
Three of the wounded passengers were listed in serious condition. The driver of the bus attempted to fight off the attacker with pepper spray, and was also stabbed repeatedly.
The attacker was identified as 23-year-old Hamza Muhammad Hasan Matrouk, pictured above, a resident of the Tulkarm refugee camp in the Palestinian West Bank.
According to statement by Israel’s internal security force, known as the Shin Bet, Matrouk had no prior record of arrests and wasn’t known to be part of any terrorist organization.
“Last night Hamza and I hung out with friends in the camp until 11 p.m. and we had fun,” a fellow resident of the Tulkarm camp told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an.
“He was laughing and kidding and I know very well that he isn’t affiliated to any faction.”
But according to the Shin Bet statement, Matrouk’s motives were political. The alleged terrorist said that he was driven to carry out the stabbing attack on the Tel Aviv bus by anger over the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip — known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge — as well as by the conflicts between Jews and Muslims at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, a site sacred to both religions.
Matrouk also told Shin Bet officers that he was influenced by radical Islamist television programs and believed that he would go immediately to heaven if he were killed in the bus attack.
Within two hours of the attack, Palestinian media posted editorial cartoons glorifying Matrouk’s horrific actions on the Tel Aviv bus.
The above cartoon, depicting a stream of blood pouring from the Tel Aviv bus from the attack, was drawn by Bahaa Yaseen, a well-known Palestinian artist infamous for his anti-Israel cartoons.