Arab Who Attacked with Ax Charged with Attempted Murder, Terror Ties

A 37-year-old Israeli Arab with a family history of mental illness was formally charged with attempted murder and membership in terrorist organization Wednesday by the Petach Tikva Magistrates Court.

Ali Mahmoud Massawa of Taiba village was ordered into custody for 15 days after assaulting three people with an ax Monday in Independence Square in Netanya, a city north of Tel Aviv.

The most seriously injured was a Holocaust survivor, Lola Goldblus, 65, a French citizen who lives in Petach Tikva. Goldblus, whose arm bears a concentration camp tattoo, was strolling with her granddaughter near the seashore when she was attacked.

Doctors at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva, the main hospital for head surgery in central Israel, described her condition as critical but improving. The patient is in the intensivecare unit recovering from surgery performed to remove bone splinters from her brain.

Doctors said it would be several days before they could determine whether she had suffered permanent brain damage.

The other assault victims were admitted to Laniadio Hospital in Netanya for treatment of relatively slight injuries.

They were identified as Yosef Tubal, 37, who was attacked at his jewelry stand, and Golan Ta’iri, a young Civil Guard volunteer who planned to join the army next month.

Ta’iri tried to stop the ax-wielder, who was beaten by a crowd before the police arrived.

According to Taiba residents, Massawa had been under psychiatric treatment for depression following the death of his mother two years ago. His parents and grandparents suffered from mental disease, neighbors said.

In court Wednesday, the prisoner denied he belonged to a terrorist organization. He admitted the attacks, saying he had acted under an “uncontrollable impulse.”

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