JERUSALEM (MCT) — An Israeli soldier was stabbed to death on board a bus by a Palestinian teenager Wednesday morning, Israeli police and military officials said.
According to police and eyewitnesses, the Tel-Aviv-bound bus made a stop in the northern town of Afula when a young passenger pulled out a knife and stabbed the soldier, who was napping while en route to his army base.
Citizens and security guards seized the suspect and turned him over to the police, while medics treated the soldier for critical injuries. Eden Atias, 19, died of his wounds shortly afterward in the hospital.
Commander of the northern district of Israeli police Ronny Atiya told Israeli media after the initial questioning that the suspect was a 16-year-old Palestinian youth from a village near the West Bank town of Jenin, who did not have a permit to be in Israel.
The teen reportedly told his interrogators from the police and Shin Bet, Israel's domestic security agency, that he set out Wednesday morning to look for work and planned to "stab a Jew" if he could not find employment. He also reportedly told authorities that hi alleged crime was a protest of his two cousins, serving life sentences in an Israeli prison, being denied family visits.
Atiya said the youth appears to have acted alone but the investigation was still ongoing. Palestinian sources reported Israeli army forces were operating in the suspect's West Bank village of Bir al-Basha several hours after the incident.
Wednesday's incident is the fourth fatal attack against Israelis by suspected Palestinians in recent months.
Military authorities acknowledge an escalation in the number of attacks, but say it is hard to anticipate or prevent attacks perpetrated by lone assailants unrelated to organized militant groups. Army sources told Israeli media that they do not suspect an organized uprising at this point.
Minister Silvan Shalom, in statements to Israeli media on Wednesday, blamed "ongoing Palestinian incitement" for encouraging the attacks, slamming the Palestinian authority for instigating during ongoing negotiations with Israel. Other government hawks called for halting the peace talks entirely.
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