And again – Two Israelis murdered in Jerusalem by Palestinian terrorists

Scene of the fatal stabbing attack outside Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem

The last couple of weeks have seen a dip in the latest terror wave, or to be more precise, a dip in Israeli fatalities from Palestinian terror. This is not to say that there haven’t been constant attempted and “successful” stabbings and car-rammings, which have caused dreadful injuries. (More on that later).

But yesterday (Wednesday) we witnessed another murderous rampage by two Palestinian knife-wielding terrorists in Jerusalem, just outside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City, and two Israeli fathers were killed:

Two Israelis hurt in a terror attack near Jerusalem’s Old City died of their injuries Wednesday night, hospital officials said.

One victim, who was accidentally shot by police during the stabbing attacked, was named as Ofer Ben-Ari, 46, of Jerusalem. He is survived by his wife and two children, according to reports.

The second man was named as Reuven Biermacher, a rabbi in the Spanish program of the Aish Hatorah yeshiva in the Old City.

Biermacher had sustained critical wounds during the attack, which took place next to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem early Wednesday afternoon.

“He spent the morning teaching Torah and was murdered on his way out of the Old City,” Rabbi Steven Burg, who heads the yeshiva, wrote on Facebook.

A third man remained in serious condition after sustaining stabbing wounds during the attack. He was not named.

The fatalities bring the death toll in nearly three months of attacks by Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank to 24, including at least one other person hit by friendly fire. More than 100 Palestinians have died — the majority of them killed in the course of their attacks on Israelis.

Wednesday’s attack was carried out by two Palestinian stabbers, both of whom were shot by policewomen at the scene. One of them was killed immediately and the other later succumbed to his wounds, police and paramedics said.

Palestinian media identified the attackers as Anan Abu Habsah and Issa Assaf, both 21, from Qalandiya.

Witnesses said one of the victims struggled with his stabber on the ground and was stabbed multiple times.

Here is something very important to note: a video has been circulating ostensibly showing one or more Israelis ostensibly beating the helpless Palestinian on the ground. But, as we all know by now, pictures and even videos can be deceiving.

A video uploaded to YouTube by daily Haaretz after the stabbing appeared to show bystanders beating the injured terror suspects lying prone on the ground.

In the video, one Jewish man is seen kicking something, likely one of the Palestinian terrorists who were shot by police.

Police said Wednesday night that the stabber, though shot, had continued to wave a knife and threaten passersby, prompting the Israeli bystander to attack him with a pole.

The Israeli later gave testimony of the incident to police.

One of the victims, Rabbi Reuven Birmacher, Hy’d, was laid to rest last night. He was a teacher in the Spanish program at Aish Hatorah yeshiva and leaves family and students bereft:

Birmacher, 45, was born in Argentina. After immigrating to Israel he became more religious and began studying at the Torah V’Emuna Yeshiva of the Belz Hassidic sect.

Rabbi Reuven Biermacher Hy’d

Over the years, he excelled in his studies and began teaching at the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Birmacher was residing with his wife and seven children in Kiryat Ye’arim near the capital at the time of his death.

Rabbi Steven Burg, Director General of Aish HaTorah, spoke during the funeral at Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem.

“He was a beloved rabbi and admired greatly by the Spanish branch of our Yeshiva,” Burg eulogized. “The Rabbi used the morning to teach Torah and was murdered on his way out of the Old City. The entire Yeshiva will attend the funeral procession. May God strengthen us in this difficult time and we pray the Rabbi will be a public victim on behalf of all of Israel.”

What a terrible loss for his family, the yeshiva and for the entire Jewish nation. May his memory be for a blessing.

The other victim, Ofer Ben Ari, Hy’d, was apparently shot by “friendly fire” but he is no less a victim of Palestinian terrorism for all that. His children describe what a wonderful man he was:

“He was a hero, we have good memories. He was a man of gold who never harmed anyone,” Ben Ari’s 16-year-old daughter told the Walla news site.

Ofer Ben Ari Hy’d

“He was always supportive and he could not even kill a bug,” she said. “It is hard and we cannot stomach it, that such an amazing person died. It is inconceivable. He was murdered for nothing. It’s important for me that you know that a cop shot my dad with intent to kill the terrorist, I don’t want you to think my father was a… he wasn’t a threat to anyone,” she said.

I would only disagree with the daughter that her father was not “murdered for nothing”. He died because he was a Jew living in the land of Israel, walking in the streets of Jerusalem, our capital.  May his memory be for a blessing.

May both families be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

And how did some of the international media report this attack?

It is a never-ending battle against this kind of casual, blase, anti-Israel bias.

In welcome news we learn that the third stabbing victim has improved and is in hospital but now out of danger.

It turns out that the two terrorists who carried out this heinous murder had previously served time in Israeli prisons for terrorism:

The two Arab terrorists who stabbed three Israeli civilians outside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon have been identified as a pair of former convicts, both of whom were arrested for terrorism and imprisoned in the past.

Annan Hamad, 20, and Issa Assaf, 19, both Qalandiya residents, have each served time in Israeli prison for terror-related offenses.

Hamad was imprisoned after approaching a checkpoint with a knife several years ago, apparently specifically to cause security officials to arrest him. During interrogation, he said he was simply “tired of life.”

Assaf, meanwhile, was recently released from prison after serving a sentence for unspecified terrorism-related offenses.

There is a lesson to be learned here, and that is that maybe Israel should consider life imprisonment for all terrorists. No more releases for good behavior, or limited sentences. It si becoming clear that so many terrorists, like these two and a huge percentage of those released under the Shalit deal, have picked up their evil and violent ways where they left them off at the time of arrest. And if they have to be released for whatever reason, they should be deported. If you ask who would have them, I am sure that Gaza would not object, or maybe the Hezbollah-ruled region of Lebanon. Just get them out of here and away from us.

An interesting and even inspiring post on what it feels like to be so close to a terror attack was published in the Times of Israel by Howard Feldman, currently vacationing in Israel. Read “Fifty Steps from Terror”:

We were on our way towards the end of the Mall, where one climbs the steps to the Yafo Gate when I remembered that I needed a coffee. It had after all been around an hour or so I was well overdue. The last coffee place of the mall seemed as good a place as any and my wife ran inside to order whilst I stayed outside with the family. She came out irritated at the poor service, which was only rivalled by the poor coffee and we laughed about it as we quickly drank up ahead of our walk.

We were about to head off when we heard the shots. They were close and they were loud and I had no doubt as to what had just happened. I exchanged glances with my wife and we went into a silent communication as to how to handle the situation. There was a pause, there was silence and then a commotion. Almost immediately we heard the sirens in the background and people started to run. Not away from the scene but towards it.

Shopkeepers became soldiers. Everyone was suddenly armed and the mall sprang into action. No one ran away but everyone ran towards. That was the most overwhelming impression. In a second everyone had a job to do and no one wasted time in doing it. A solitary woman who was sobbing and who had clearly been at ground zero hurried away from the scene was comforted by strangers who held her and who consoled her. She was shaking and overwhelmed, but she wasn’t alone.

I tried to place a distance between the scene and myself by taking photos with my phone. And I could see that others were doing the same. It didn’t work. A friend called to see if I was ok and asked if I wanted to come out of Jerusalem to get away from the tension. I said I was not all right but I didn’t want to leave. On the contrary, this is exactly where I wanted to be.

Kol hakavod to Mr. Feldman and his family for their steadfast support and for their courage both at the scene, and in visiting Israel at all in the present volatile times.

Lest anyone think that things have been quiet these past couple of weeks, unfortunately that couldn’t be further from the truth. Last week there was a terrible car-ramming terror attack in Jerusalem in which 14 people were hurt, some of them very seriously. One of the injured was a baby boy who eventually lost a leg:

14 people have been injured in a car-ramming attack in central Jerusalem, close to the capital’s iconic Chords Bridge.

Scene of the car ramming on 14th December at Jerusalem’s Chords Bridge (Gesher Hemetarim)

Six of the wounded victims were evacuated to Shaarei Tzedek hospital, two of them in moderate condition – a 65-year-old woman and a one-and-a-half-year-old toddler. The remainder were hospitalized with light injuries.

[…]   Witnesses say the attack began when an Arab driver arrived at Herzl Boulevard, towards the entrance to the capital, in a private vehicle just before 3 p.m.

Without warning, the terrorist then mounted the sidewalk and plowed his car into a group of civilians waiting at a bus stop.

He was apparently shot dead after emerging from his car – which crashed into a fire hydrant – armed with an ax, and attempted to attack onlookers.

Later that same day (the last day of Chanukah) a Palestinian construction worker attacked two other workers with a hammer at a building site in Modiin. His “sudden-jihad syndrome” injured an Israeli and another Palestinian.

Last Shabbat a Palestinian went on a stabbing spree in the central city of Raanana, injuring 3 people:

The assailant attacked people on Anilevich and Ramchal Streets, inflicting serious wounds on one victim and lightly wounding two others.

Witnesses said the terrorist attempted to enter a synagogue about 300 meters from where he was caught. According to witnesses, he attacked a woman and passersby immediately began chasing him. A civilian reportedly fired warning shots into the air. The terrorist then fled about 300 meters and entered a house on an adjacent street.

He then fled into the house’s yard, where he was confronted by police. A police officer drew his gun, at which point the terrorist dropped his knife. Police found a knife in the yard.

The attacker was identified as Mahmoud Faisal Basharat, a 20-year-old Palestinian from the village of Tamun near Jenin, who was living in Israel illegally.

It soon emerged that the terrorist nearly succeeded in massacring a family inside the home. Dikla Dvir, 46, had the presence of mind to shove the terrorist outside. A friend said she had spoken to Dvir, who described the sequence of events.

The friend explained that the Dvir family lives on the ground floor and that the terrorist entered through a ground floor window. Dvir began to scream when she saw the terrorist and he tried to stab her, and she then shoved him outside and locked the window. Her husband and son, who is ten and a half, were with her.

“She called the police,” recounted the friend. “Her husband outside and she pulled him inside. She has suffered a serious trauma and her 10-and-a-half-year-old son who was in the house is in shock and cannot move.”

It is important to remember that the traumatised are the “invisible” victims of terror but are just as badly affected.

Besides these attacks, there have been many others. As I write this post, the news announced another stabbing attack in the Barkan industrial zone of Ariel, injuring two security guards, one seriously and one moderately.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a constantly updated list of attacks if you want to keep up with the news. Here are just a few from the last week:

December 20
Hebron: A terrorist attempted to stab soldiers and was taken into custody.
December 18
West Bank: Car ramming attack thwarted during violent riot near Ramallah. Palestinian assailant attempted to ram vehicle into security forces at Kalandia Crossing. Both assailants were shot.
December 14
Beit Aryeh – Luban: Three Israelis were lightly injured by a huge rock that crashed through the windshield of their car.

May all the injured victims have a refuah shlema, a speedy and complete recovery, and may the bereaved families be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

יהי זכרם ברוך.

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