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'Mentally unstable' Palestinian detained after stabbing, killing British student in Jerusalem

April 14, 2017 1:23 P.M. (Updated: April 17, 2017 6:52 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A "mentally unstable" Palestinian man was detained Friday after he stabbed and killed a 20-year-old British woman inside the Jerusalem Light Rail, according to official Israeli sources.

Israeli media initially reported that an Israeli woman in her twenties was seriously injured, though was later revealed that the slain woman was a British national studying in Israel. She was identified as 20-year-old Hannah Bladon, a University of Birmingham student who was visiting the city as part of an exchange program.

Israeli media sites also reported that two Israelis, including a pregnant woman in her thirties and a man in his fifties, were also "indirectly injured" when the train came to a sudden stop in the midst of the attack. 

Locals told Ma'an that Israeli forces imposed a siege on the entrances of Jerusalem’s Old City following the incident.

Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the suspected assailant, Jamil al-Tamimi, had recently been released from a psychiatric hospital.

Commander Yoram Halevy, in charge of the Israeli police's Jerusalem district, said that al-Tamimi was a "mentally unstable" 57-year-old Jerusalemite who had a prior criminal police record for domestic violence.

According to Haaretz, al-Tamimi was a resident of the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, located just outside of the Damascus Gate area of the Old City.

Israel's security agency the Shin Bet reportedly said that al-Tamimi had tried to commit suicide by swallowing a razorblade while hospitalized. In 2011, he was convicted of molesting his daughter. 

While authorities recognized al-Tamimi's history of mental illness, they attributed the attack to so-called radical Islamic terrorism. "This is yet another case of a Palestinian suffering from personal, mental or moral distress choosing to commit an act of terror to escape his problems," the Shin Bet's statement said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also tied the attack to global terrorism, saying in a statement: "Radical Islamic terrorism is striking world capitals. Regretfully, terrorism struck today in Israel's capital -- Jerusalem," he said, despite the fact that the international community does not recognize Israel's claim of Jerusalem as its capital, as it considers the eastern part of the city to be illegally occupied since 1967.

In spite of the comparisons, a trend of alleged and actual small-scale knife attacks by Palestinians that peaked during a wave of violence in October 2015 has been understood by locals as a political uprising known as the “Jerusalem Intifada.”

While Israeli officials routinely claim that Palestinian attacks are part of a international rise in Islamist extremism, many Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.

Bladon was the first foreign national to be killed by a Palestinian in the occupied territory or Israel since the start of 2017, while seven Israelis -- the majority of whom were uniformed soldiers or police -- have been killed by Palestinians, and at least 18 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli forces. 

Though Israeli forces have claimed that many Palestinians were allegedly attempting to carry out attacks when they were killed, independent investigations and witness testimonies by Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in a number of cases.

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