Israeli soldier killed by alleged Arab citizen in stabbing attack at shopping mall

An off-duty Israeli soldier was killed and another seriously injured after an alleged Arab citizen went on a stabbing attack at a shopping mall in northern Israel Wednesday, according to the IDF. The attack, which was captured on security footage, has been hailed by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a "heroic operation."

The attacker, later identified as Jawwad Omar Rubia by security officials, was killed at the scene by the slain officer who was able to shoot him before collapsing. The officer was identified by the IDF as Sgt. Aleksandr Iakiminskyi, 19, a truck driver in the 188th Armored Brigade’s 71st Battalion, per The Times of Israel. The wounded soldier also served in the 71st Battalion.

The surveillance footage showed Rubia approaching Iakiminskyi from behind and stabbing him several times in the neck. Rubia began stabbing the second soldier in the chest as Iakiminskyi briefly fell to the floor, then grabbed his gun to begin firing at Rubia who also briefly fell before running. The video cut off with Rubia off-screen and Iakiminskyi still standing, covered in blood, firing at the assailant. A large pool of blood could be seen on the floor where the soldiers were initially stabbed.

Rubia hailed from Nahf, an Arab town in Israel, and arrived at the mall in Karmiel on foot, according to police. Several of the assailant's family members, who worked at the mall, were arrested according to the Haaretz Daily. Police then went to Nahf to arrest more of Rubia's relatives. Police said they were treating the incident as a "suspected terror attack," per BBC News.

The mayor of Nahf, Muhammad Zuri, stated he hoped that the attack wouldn't "spoil" good relations the town had with neighboring Jewish communities. "There is outrage in the village over this incident, and we hope it will remain an isolated one," he said.

Hamas, on the other hand, applauded the attack, calling it a "natural response" to Israel's "crimes" in Gaza, and hailed Rubia as "one of the heroes of our people, but stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack. They stated that attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers are the only way to “defend the rights” of Palestinians and to “liberate their land.” Palestinian Islamic Jihad called the attack a “heroic operation."

Israel Police spokesman Eli Levy stated to Ynet: "Incitement to terrorism is running rampant on social networks. At the same time, together with the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces, we are destroying a lot of terrorist infrastructure and thwarting many attacks."

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