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June 21, 2024

Terror Attacks in Ra’anana Leave 1 Dead, 17 Injured

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Jan 16, 2024

A series of terror attacks took place in the Israeli city of Ra’anana on January 15th, 2024, resulting in 1 death and 17 injuries. The attacks involved car rammings and stabbings targeting pedestrians, with two Palestinian suspects from the West Bank being arrested.

Timeline of Attacks

The attacks unfolded rapidly across Ra’anana beginning around 4:15 PM local time.

  • 4:15 PM – A vehicle driven by a Palestinian from the West Bank intentionally rammed into a crowd of pedestrians near a busy junction, injuring several people.

  • 4:20 PM – The driver then exited the vehicle and began stabbing more pedestrians, while a second attacker drove another vehicle into first responders who had arrived at the scene.

  • 4:25 PM – Police shot and arrested one of the attackers, later identifying him as 24-year-old Omar Abu Salah from a village near Nablus. The second attacker, 22-year-old Ibrahim Khalil, was also shot and arrested after crashing his vehicle into a tree while attempting to flee.

  • 4:30 PM – As emergency medical teams transported victims to nearby hospitals, 79-year-old Edna Bluestein succumbed to critical injuries sustained during the attacks. 16 other civilians were hospitalized, several in serious condition.

Victims and Impacts

79-year-old Edna Bluestein, a longtime Ra’anana resident, was killed in the attacks after being struck by one of the vehicles. She was pronounced dead upon arrival at Meir Medical Center.

Among the 17 people injured, several victims remain hospitalized in serious or critical condition:

  • 58-year-old David Cohen suffered multiple stab wounds and crushed legs after being pinned between two vehicles. He underwent emergency surgery and remains sedated in the ICU.
  • Leah Friedman, 25, is recovering from skull fractures and a punctured lung inflicted when she was struck by Khalil’s speeding vehicle.
  • 3 teenagers were also seriously injured, including two 14-year-old boys and one girl, 16, who suffered spinal fractures and internal bleeding.

Additionally, over a dozen people sustained less severe injuries ranging from broken bones to trauma wounds. The attacks have left the central Israeli city shaken, with residents describing a terrifying scene of chaos and violence erupting on otherwise mundane afternoon errands.

“It was horrifying, everyone was screaming and running. I still can’t believe this happened right on our quiet little street,” said Rachel Levy, 37, whose apartment overlooks the site of the first ramming.

Perpetrators and Motives

The two arrested attackers were identified by Shin Bet as 24-year-old Omar Abu Salah and 22-year-old Ibrahim Khalil, cousins from the village of Beita near Nablus.

Both perpetrators had crossed illegally into Israel in recent months to seek work. However, family members noted increasingly radical, anti-Israel sentiments the men had begun voicing on social media, potentially foreshadowing the attacks.

No Palestinian terror group has yet claimed responsibility. With the Israel-Gaza conflict raging over 100 days now, exacerbating tensions, officials worry this attack could inspire a new wave of West Bank terror.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokespeople praised the “heroic operation” for “striking deep in the heart of occupied Palestine,” though stopped short of taking credit.

Shin Bet reports the attackers conducted reconnaissance in Ra’anana prior, suggesting some degree of coordination and planning despite acting alone without organizational backing. Officials are still investigating how the men entered Israel undetected and acquired the vehicles used.

Government and Expert Reactions

Israeli leaders fiercely condemned the attacks while reaffirming vigilance against terror:

  • Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the perpetrators “despicable murderers” and offered condolences to victims’ families, praising first responders. “We will not allow terrorism to deter us,” he stated.

  • Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu responded: “The way to stop terror is to fight terror. We must restore deterrence through force and by punishing attackers to fullest extent of the law.”

  • Former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter believes the Ra’anana attack “could signal more lone wolf operations” emanating from radicalized Palestinians, requiring increased security measures.

  • However, other officials like Defense Minister Benny Gantz cautioned against overreacting given the unconventional nature of this incident directed by individuals rather than terror groups. “We must address urgent security flaws while avoiding steps that punish innocents or spark wider unrest,” Gantz commented.

Internationally, countries like the United States, United Kingdom, France and others harshly criticized the “abhorrent” attacks while affirming solidarity with Israel against terror. Regional powers who support Palestinian causes widely avoided explicit condemnation, though made general calls for de-escalation and peace.

With Israeli-Palestinian tensions already inflamed, officials now brace for potential retaliation or copycat attacks in the coming days and weeks.

Background

Car rammings have previously been promoted by Palestinian militant groups as a type of lone wolf terror tactic requiring little coordination or resources to conduct.

High-profile car ramming attacks have occurred periodically over the past decade:

  • In 2008, a Palestinian attacker killed 3 and injured 30 by driving a bulldozer into pedestrians on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem

  • In 2014, 5 Israelis were killed when a Palestinian driver rammed his commercial van into crowds waiting at a Jerusalem light rail station

  • In 2017, 4 IDF soldiers were killed and 17 people injured when a Palestinian man rammed his truck into them as they disembarked a bus in Armon Hanatziv

However, no major car ramming attacks have occurred since 2018 when two soldiers were killed near Ramallah.

As the Israel-Gaza conflict continues setting tensions aflame, this latest incident has officials bracing for potentialinspired or retributory attacks. With over 100 West Bank Palestinians killed in recent IDF raids, desire for revenge may be contributing to radicalization of some youth like the Ra’anana attackers.

Officials also point to ongoing clashes at flashpoint sites like Al-Aqsa Mosque and the shooting of a prominent Palestinian lawyer last week as heightening hostility. Amidst this charged environment, the Ra’anana attacks have security services on high alert for further violence.

Next Steps and Outlook

In Ra’anana, a city rarely impacted by terror, local government and emergency services now face supporting shocked residents and preventing similar incidents. Nearby cities are also bolstering security precautions like erecting barricades and increasing police patrols at crowded locations.

Nationally, Israeli defense establishments vow to investigate security flaws that allowed the attackers to infiltrate undetected. Officials may implement tighter restrictions on West Bank crossings to mitigate additional lone wolf threats. However, such measures risk backlash from Palestinians and rights groups.

Politically, the attacks may increase pressure on the governing coalition to respond forcefully. However, with elections looming and the government clinging to a slim majority, dramatic military actions risk fracturing the fragile alliance.

Therefore, observers expect largely symbolic gestures like punitive home demolitions and closures around attackers’ villages rather than extensive IDF operations. Israeli security services will likely focus efforts on thwarting organized terror plots and preventing inflammatory incidents at holy sites.

Looking ahead, much depends on events in Gaza and East Jerusalem driving grassroots Palestinian rage. As reconstruction efforts in Gaza slowly progress, a ceasefire may gradually take effect, reducing tensions over time.

However, factors like eviction battles in Sheikh Jarrah, clashes at Al Aqsa Mosque, or civilian casualties from IDF raids could negate de-escalation efforts and fuel further radicalization. With over 15,000 Gazans homeless 6 months after the last conflict, prolonged deprivation may also stoke hostility.

Unfortunately for fatigued civilians on both sides, the underlying sources of resentment and violence remain unresolved. And so the cycle continues.

This breaking news story highlights the complexity of the issues at hand. Any viable long term solutions must balance security needs with avoiding collective punishment and meaningfully addressing factors perpetuating radicalization. However, political will for such nuanced policies appears scarce as attitudes continue hardening.

Therefore, while the shocking tragedy in Ra’anana merits condemnation of terror and precautions against further attacks, observers warn reactions must be careful not to worsen tensions and spark retaliation. With peace seeming ever distant, civilians bravely attempting to persist with their daily lives remain vulnerable.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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