An ax-wielding Islamic militant killed a 19-year-old Israeli soldier in the northern town of Afula on Wednesday.
The soldier, Sgt. Liat Gabai, was standing at a bus stop some 50 yards from the Afula police station when the assailant approached her, pulled an ax from under his coat and struck her several times on the head and throat.
She was treated at the scene by medics and then rushed, with the ax still in her head, to the local Afula hospital. She was then flown by an army helicopter to Rambam Hospital in Haifa, where she died shortly after admission.
The assailant, who was seized by passers-by and police summoned from the station, was identified as Wahib Abu Alrub, 25, from a village near the West Bank town of Jenin.
Alrub told security officials that he had gone to Afula to attack a soldier in order to prove his worthiness to be an active member of the mainstream Al Fatah movement of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
But Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said that Alrub had been detained by Israeli security officials several times in the past and that the was a known member of the Islamic fundamentalism Hamas movement, which has claimed responsibility for a recent spate of terror attacks on Israelis.
His brother is reportedly serving a prison term in Israel for his involvement with Hamas.
Noting that the suspect did not have an entry permit for Israel, Rabin said the attack should not be blamed on lax security by the Palestinian Authority, since Alrub came from an area of the West Bank still under Israeli control.
“We shall continue on our road to peace and to fight those who oppose it,” he said.
Confronted by a mounting terror campaign, Israeli security officials have launched a massive manhunt in the West Bank for suspected Hamas members.
An army spokesman said Tuesday that security forces had rounded up 40 suspected Hamas members this week, including many connected with the Oct. 19 suicide bombing of a bus in the heart of Tel Aviv that killed 23 people, including the terrorist.