A Border Police officer was killed in a stabbing attack as she responded to a shooting outside the Old City of Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate on Friday night as Muslims were breaking their fast during their holy month of Ramadan.
Both ISIS and Hamas, the Palestinian terror group, claimed responsibility for the coordinated attack, however Palestinian and Israeli intelligence sources say the attack was unsophisticated and appeared to be disconnected from any group.
Staff Sgt. Hadas Malka, 23, was attacked as she responded to the shooting and fought her attacker, but was unable to draw her weapon. She underwent emergency surgery at a nearby hospital, but succumbed to her injuries.
“Hadas fought her attacker for several seconds, while he stabbed her repeatedly and while trying to reach for her weapon,” a police statement read.
Malka was with other officers responding to gunfire near their patrol when she was attacked, the statement said. Police said that at least four more people were injured, including another cop.
The attack began when two shooters opened fire on Border Police troops with a homemade machine gun and knives, at Zedakiah’s Cave in the Muslim Quarter. While on her way to the scene, Malka was attacked by a third person. All three assailants were killed.
During Ramadan, tens of thousands of Muslims from east Jerusalem and the West Bank attended prayers at the nearby Al Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site.
Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy told reporters that police suspect the attackers came from the West Bank and that they may not have had permits to cross into Israel.
“During Ramadan there are large numbers of youths who enter without permits, they take advantage of Ramadan to be in Jerusalem,” he said, and in some cases, “this is what we get.”
While Israeli officials do not believe ISIS was responsible for the attack, the declaration of intent to carry out more attacks such as this is worrying.
Over the past 18 months the Old City, and the Damascus Gate area in particular, have seen several attacks by Palestinians, and in one case a Jordanian national.