TEL AVIV, Israel (Christian Examiner) – A Palestinian man stabbed 12 people on a Tel Aviv commuter bus and moved his attack into the street Wednesday, Jan. 21, before he was shot by a security officer as he fled, according to reports. Three of the wounded have been hospitalized in serious condition.
The bus had been heading to Tel Aviv University when the man began his violent spree, first stabbing the bus driver before moving on to assail passengers. The attacker has been identified by Israeli officials as Hamza Muhammad Hassan Matrouk, 23, who is from the city of Tulkarm in the West Bank.
"The terrorist had murder in his eyes," a passenger identified only as Orly said on Israel Radio.
After the bus stopped, passengers fled. The assailant also exited and ran down the street and stabbed one woman in the back on the sidewalk, and she collapsed.
Armed prison officers who happened by in an official vehicle gave chase and one shot the man in the leg after firing warning shots.
"First we fired in the air, but he didn't stop," the unidentified head of the prison security team told Israeli news media. "Then we shot him in the legs."
Matrouk was arrested and taken into custody. He is currently in a local hospital while being treated for his gunshot wound.
Four of the wounded passengers are in serious condition, according to AFP. Israeli security officials said he cited Israel's Gaza offensive last summer as one of the reasons he decided to strike.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack "a direct result of venomous incitement disseminated in the Palestinian Authority against Jews and their country."
"This same terrorism is trying to attack us in Paris, Brussels and everywhere," he continued.
Netanyahu has made security a central theme of his campaign for re-election in March. In November, two Palestinians killed four rabbis and a policeman at a Jerusalem synagogue. Five Israelis and a foreign visitor died in Palestinian attacks before that incident. At least 12 Palestinians have also been killed, including some of the attackers.
Reuters contributed to this report.