Updated 9:11 pm Israel time
Four people were killed in the deadliest terror attack that Israel has seen in recent years – an attack which involved the terrorist ramming a biker with his car and stabbing several victims.
The attack occurred at three separate points including a gas station and a busy shopping center in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva. It was carried out by an Israeli Arab – 34-year-old Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an who ran over a biker with his vehicle, killing him, then drove on to two other locations where he exited his vehicle and stabbed more victims, police said.
This was the deadliest attack since June 2016 when two terrorists opened fire at a popular market in Tel Aviv, killing four and wounding 16. It comes on the heels of a string of lone-wolf terror attacks, most of them in Jerusalem, in the past several weeks, including two this weekend.
The deadly spree this afternoon lasted just eight minutes from the time Abu al-Qi’an rammed his car into the first victim until he was shot and killed by bystanders. Video footage from the scene shows a standoff between a man with a handgun trying to talk to the attacker. However, when Abu al-Qi'an lunged at him with a knife, the civilian fired his weapon at him as did another bystander.
Arthur Chaimov, a bus driver who happened on the scene, exited his vehicle with his gun and tried to talk the attacker into dropping his weapon.
“I got out of the vehicle, I took my weapon, I got closer and then I saw he had a knife. I saw a man [lying] wounded. I told him several times: ‘I’m asking you to put down the knife. I won’t shoot you. He said ‘No,'” Chaimov said. “I told myself I was in danger, when he came in only a few meters from me, so I made a judgment call, what could I do. I had to shoot him.”
A Bedouin and elementary school teacher from a nearby town, Abu al-Qi’an served four years in prison for his affiliation with Islamic State and for attempting to recruit people to the jihadist group. According to reports, he admitted to organizing a group that would hold clandestine meetings related to Islamic State, and to planning to leave Israel on the pretext of a pilgrimage to Mecca, but with the true goal of joining IS fighters in Syria.
In a statement, the town council of his hometown, Hura, condemned the attack.
“Attacking innocent civilians is an act of criminal, despicable terrorism,” the statement said, adding condolences to families of the victims.
Other Israel Arabs, including the Islamist Ra’am party, condemned the "despicable" attack.
“Ra’am calls on all citizens to preserve the common, fragile social fabric, to be responsible and advance a discourse of tolerance in this difficult hour,” the statement said.
Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, said on Twitter: “Violence is not our way and we must condemn it with all our might.”
On the other hand, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank celebrated the attack, handing out sweets.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett defended the civilians who shot the terrorist, saying they "showed resourcefulness and bravery and prevented additional loss of life."
"The security forces are on maximum alert. We will take strong action against terrorists," he said. "We will also pursue and apprehend those who aided and abetted them."
The attack comes as police ramp up for increased tensions between Israelis and Palestinians during the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS