Haifa shooting was terror attack

Haifa shooting Shooting on Hagiborim street in Haifa, January 3, 2017. (photo credit:EFFY SCHNAPPER/ MDA)

His girlfriend teased him that he was a “Jew lover”. Shortly afterwards, Mahmoud Shinawi proved that he wasn’t – by going on a shooting spree against residents of his own city, Haifa.

Israelis heard about the Haifa shootings, which left one man badly injured and another dead, when they happened in early January, but the violence was initially put down to gangland culture. 

On Monday, the northern city where Jews and Arabs normally coexist peacefully was shaken after a court heard that the attacks weren’t criminally motivated: prosecutors reported that Shinawi took responsibility, saying he was motivated by Jew-hatred. 

“He admitted to carrying out the attack and said he wanted to kill as many people as possible,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The AJN

The Shin Bet noted that Shinawi holds the belief that Jews are “heretics who deserve to be killed”. 

Guy Cafri, a 47-year-old bus driver, was killed in the attack. Yechiel Illouz, a 48-year-old rabbi was injured, while another target, a woman, escaped unharmed. Police plan to indict three people, one of them a minor, for giving help to the attacker, including bringing him a weapon and helping him to hide the body. 

“[Shinawi] told us that he had carried out the attack and led us to the weapon,” said Rosenfeld, explaining that the attack was initially treated as criminal but then “the investigation changed and it was treated as a terrorist attack”. 

Shinawi is one of several Arab citizens of Israel who have become involved in the current wave of violence, which began with Palestinians but has since gained some support in Israel’s Arab sector. 

As Shinawi’s case was being heard in Haifa, a Jerusalem court was concluding the case of Khaled Koutineh, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem who carried out a ramming attack 10 months ago, killing one Jewish target and injuring another. He was sentenced to life plus 20 years and is said to have admitted, like Shinawi, that he set out to kill Jews.

Almost a year-and-a-half in to the terror wave, in  the West Bank and Jerusalem Israel is still engaged in a cat-and-mouse struggle with terrorists, trying to prevent the next attack or detain those responsible for the latest incident. 

This week soldiers went to the West Bank city of Jenin to seize terror suspects, after Palestinians fired towards the settlement of Nilli, hitting a vehicle. Two suspects were arrested near Ramallah. 

During a separate arrest operation by Israeli forces, in the city of Jenin, Palestinians fired explosives at soldiers, who returned fire, wounding one Palestinian and killing another.

NATHAN JEFFAY