American Taylor Force Killed During Series Of Violent Tel Aviv Stabbing Attacks

Multiple stabbing attacks in Tel Aviv on Tuesday left several people injured and one person dead. American combat veteran and Vanderbilt University graduate Taylor Force was killed in a stabbing rampage along a seaside boulevard in the ancient Mediterranean port city of Jaffa.

Force, who grew up in Lubbock, Texas, was visiting Israel with 29 other students from Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt to learn more about global entrepreneurship.

“This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world,” Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos wrote in a statement.

According to the statement, the other students and staff members traveling with Force are safe. Vanderbilt has not yet received permission to release the names of the other people attending the trip to Israel.

“A Palestinian terrorist murdered an American citizen, Taylor Force, tonight in Jaffa,” Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote on Twitter. “May his memory be a blessing.”

John Kirby with the State Department offered condolences to Taylor’s family and friends as well as others affected by the stabbings in Tel Aviv.

“You hear of tragic stories that happen overseas, terrorist attacks, you know. California obviously, within the last six months in Paris,” said Force’s friend Seth Thompson. “But now, unfortunately we have been touched with it — have been cursed with it.”

From 2009 to 2014, 29-year-old Force served as an Army officer and had tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He had also earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering and industrial management from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

As reported by the New York Times, Vice President Joe Biden was at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa just a few minutes away from the Tel Aviv stabbing attacks that killed Force. As part of a two-day trip, Biden was scheduled to meet with several Israeli and Palestinian leaders, including former Israeli president Shimon Peres.

“I notified the vice president on the terrible incident that took place just a few hundred meters away from here in Jaffa,” Peres said Tuesday.

One witness caught the attacker on camera. Wearing a hoodie, the man is seen running down the Jaffa promenade and jumping at several people. One unidentified person in the background is heard yelling “Terrorist! Terrorist!” in Hebrew.

While Taylor Force was killed in the Tel Aviv stabbing attack, 12 others were wounded before police were able to fatally shoot the assailant near the Manta Ray Restaurant. A police spokeswoman, Luba Samri, said the boulevard where the stabbings occurred is often crowded with a mixture of Arabs and Jews. Two of the injured were Arabs, she added.

Force was out on the boardwalk in Jaffa when the attacker, later identified as a 22-year-old Palestinian named Bashar Masalha, stabbed him to death. Masalha lived in the West Bank and was a member of the Islamist group Hamas.

Tel aviv stabbing attack carried out by Hamas member.
The body of a Palestinian attacker is illuminated in Tel Aviv Tuesday March 8, 2016. [AP Photo/David Bachar]

The stabbings in Tel Aviv were just more incidences in a string of deadly violent events that occurred that day. Three Palestinian terrorists and another Palestinian woman were killed when they attacked security forces’ members with a knife on Tuesday.

Just in the past five months, almost 30 Israelis and a Palestinian bystander have been killed due to violence in the region. Additionally, approximately 180 Palestinians have died while carrying out an attack or for being suspected of attempting an attack.

Taylor Force is not the only American to have died in a violent attack in recent months. Student Ezra Schwartz, 18, was fatally shot in the West Bank in November. One American teenager from Tampa, Florida, Mahmoud Shalan, was killed while committing a terrorist act.

[Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images]