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Arab Assailant Kills Two in Jaffa, Wounds 20 Others in Knife Attack

March 18, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A 19-year-old Israeli woman and an Arab man were slashed to death Tuesday morning in Jaffa, and some 20 others were wounded, by a young Arab wielding a machete-like instrument.

The assailant, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, was then shot dead by an off-duty border policeman and a passing taxi driver.

The attacker had run amok on a Jaffa street, slashing at his victims. The 20 who were wounded were mostly teen-age schoolgirls waiting for a Purim party.

Three of the victims were in serious condition with deep stab wounds and fractured skulls. A boy had a finger severed, which doctors were trying to re-attack.

The other injuries ranged from moderate to light, according to hospital reports.

The dead woman was identified as Ilanit Ohana, 19, of Bat Yam. She was attacked while standing outside a garage near the small business where she had just gotten a job as a clerk.

The Arab garage-owner, Abed al-Karim, 41, was fatally stabbed when he rushed to help her.

The attacker was identified as Raed al-Reefi, 21, who died after he was admitted to a hospital.

Police said they found papers on him indicating an association with Hamas, the Islamic fundamentalist organization active in the intifada.

They included a pamphlet extolling the attack on an Israel Defense Force recruit training camp during the night of Feb. 15, in which three sleeping soldiers were hacked to death with knives, axes and a pitchfork.


Some Palestinian sources said al-Reefi was a member of the Islamic Jihad (Holy War) and that the attack was to avenge the death of his father in an Israeli prison.

The Jaffa rampage occurred shortly after 9 a.m. local time in a working-class neighborhood that has a mixed Jewish-Arab population.

The bearded assailant, wearing a kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress, which concealed part of his face, alighted from a truck with Gaza Strip license plates. He got off on Eilat Street, a connecting route to Tel Aviv, which is lined with garages, auto repair shops and marginal industries.

Police said the truck driver who brought the killer from Gaza was being held for questioning.

According to eyewitnesses, the assailant carried a weapon described by some as a machete and by others as a sword about 30 inches long.

He did not arouse suspicion because many onlookers took him for a Purim celebrant in costume. The holiday begins Wednesday evening.

A group of teen-agers, mostly high school girls from the Mitrani School in Holon, south of Jaffa, stood across the street from the garage where the killings occurred. Some wore costumes as they waited outside the Real Time, a discotheque their school rented for its Purim party.

The knife-wielding man suddenly attacked them, slashing indiscriminately.

A boy told reporters later, “We thought he was wearing a costume and that’s why we didn’t escape immediately. Suddenly he jumped and attacked some of our group.”

The off-duty border policeman, who happened to be in the neighborhood, and the taxi driver were alerted by screams. They raced to the scene, each drawing a weapon, and fired at the assailant.

An autopsy is expected to determined whose bullets inflicted the fatal wounds.

The police are checking their computerized records to see if the Gaza youth had a previous record of criminal violence.

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