British woman stabbed to death in Jerusalem

Indo Asian News Service

Jerusalem, April 15 (IANS) A British woman was stabbed to death by a Palestinian man on a tram in Jerusalem on Friday. She has been named as 21-year-old University of Birmingham student Hannah Bladon.

Bladon was stabbed several times in the chest while she travelled on a tram in Tzahal Square and died in hospital. A 57-year-old Palestinian man was detained at the scene, BBC reported.

She commenced her studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in January 2017 as part of a student exchange programme. She was expected to complete the programme in September.

The Hebrew University offered its condolences to Bladon's family, saying in an official statement that "the university condemns such acts of terror and murder that hurt innocents who have come to Jerusalem to enrich their knowledge."

Bladon had been taking classes in bible studies, archaeology and Hebrew at the Rothberg International School, part of The Hebrew University.

The school said: "Her friends described her as an inquisitive and adventurous student who made the most of her opportunity to learn and experience life in Israel."

According to police spokeswoman Luba Samri, the attacker, who holds an Israeli ID, was released from a psychiatric hospital in northern Israel shortly before the incident. He was on his way home in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem.

An off-duty policeman travelling on the tram is believed to have pulled an emergency brake and then overpowered the attacker with the help of another passenger.

However, a statement released by Israel Security Agency Shin Bet called the suspect a "terrorist," saying he might have carried out the attack in an attempt to get killed by the police.

"He recently tried to commit suicide, in a hospital in northern Israel, by swallowing a razor blade," Xinhua news agency quoted the agency as saying in the statement.

"In 2011, he was convicted of sexually abusing his daughter," it added.

A man and a pregnant woman, who apparently sustained injuries when the rail went into an emergency brake, also needed hospital care, according to a spokesman for the MDA, an Israeli emergency medical service company.

The rail service in the city was temporarily halted, said a statement by Citipass, the company that operates the rail.

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin said he was "filled with sadness about the attack" and that his thoughts and prayers were with the family of the victim.

The attack came amid the Jewish holiday of Passover.

The police in the city have been on high alert as tens of thousands of Jews arrive for prayers in the Western Wall inside East Jerusalem's Old City, and some even go to visit the flashpoint al-Aqsa compound, a hilltop site above the Western Wall regarded as sacred by both Muslims and Jews.

The incident also came amid a spate of violence that broke out in September 2015.

Since the beginning of the unrest, Palestinians have killed 41 Israelis and two US nationals, while Israeli forces and civilians killed at least 241 Palestinians, a Jordanian and two African asylum seekers, most of them alleged attackers, according to Israel.