JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian attackers unleashed a series of shooting and stabbing assaults on Israelis on Tuesday, including a stabbing spree in the ancient Mediterranean port city of Jaffa that killed an American student near where Vice President Joe Biden was meeting with Israel’s former president, police said.
The Jaffa assault came as Biden arrived on a two-day visit as part of a regional tour of the Mideast. He is to meet both Israeli and Palestinian leaders and there have been speculations he would try to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the man killed in Jaffa was an American tourist, but did not provide further details. A dozen Israelis, civilians and police officers, were wounded in the Palestinian knife and gun attacks.
Along with the Jaffa attacker, three other Palestinian assailants were shot and killed in the day’s rash of violence, the latest in a wave of near-daily Palestinian assaults on Israeli civilians and security forces that erupted in mid-September.
The bloodshed – mainly stabbings but also shootings and car-ramming attacks – has killed 28 Israelis. During the same time, at least 176 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Most of the Palestinians have been identified by Israel as attackers, while the rest were killed in clashes with security forces.
The chancellor of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, issued a statement identifying the American stabbing victim as Taylor Force, a student at its Owen Graduate School of Management who was on a school trip to Tel Aviv. Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said all the other Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff on the trip are safe.
Zeppos said Force had traveled to Tel Aviv “to expand his understanding of global entrepreneurship and also to share his insights and knowledge with start-ups in Israel.”
“This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world,” Zeppos said.
In the Jaffa attack, Israeli Channel 2 TV interviewed a man identified only by his first name, Yishai, who described how he confronted the Palestinian as he stabbing people in the street.
“I was sitting down playing guitar and I heard screaming from across the street,” said the man, who wore a T-shirt of the rock band Tool. “I saw a man run at me with a knife, I ran at him with the guitar and smashed it in his head. He was so stunned and didn’t know what to do with himself and then started running away.”
Police said the attacker then ran toward the beach and continued attacking passers-by before he was shot and killed.
Meanwhile, Biden was meeting with former Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Peres Center for Peace, not far from the attack in Jaffa.
“I notified the Vice President on the terrible incident that took place just a few hundred meters away from here in Jaffa,” Peres said. “Terror leads to nowhere.”
Biden “condemned in the strongest possible terms the brutal attack which occurred in Jaffa,” his office said. “He expressed his sorrow at the tragic loss of American life and offered his condolences to the family of the American citizen murdered in the attack, as well as his wishes for a full and quick recovery for the wounded,” the statement said.
In other attacks Tuesday, a Palestinian opened fire at police officers near Jerusalem’s Old City in the late afternoon, about a half hour before Biden arrived in Israel, wounding an officer before fleeing the scene. In the chase that followed, the Palestinian wounded another officer before he was shot and killed, police said.
A short while before that, a Palestinian followed an Israeli into a store and stabbed him in the neck in the central city of Petah Tikvah before he was shot and killed.
Earlier in the day, a Palestinian woman in her 50s who tried to stab Israeli security forces was shot and killed by officers, also in Jerusalem’s Old City, police said. No Israelis were wounded in that attack
Palestinians say the violence stems from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli rule over the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel says the violence is fueled by a campaign of Palestinian lies and incitement that is compounded on social media sites that glorify and encourage attacks.
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, praised the attacks on Tuesday but did not claim responsibility for them.
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