An elderly Israeli woman was found dead on the streets of Holon – a city near Tel Aviv – on Tuesday evening, in what police labeled a “terrorist attack.”
The suspect – a 28-year-old Palestinian named Mousa Sarsour – was later found dead in Tel Aviv after he apparently hanged himself.
Security camera footage showed the assailant following Shulamit Rachel Ovadia as she walked to her house. The man approached her from behind, hit her using a “heavy object” in his hand, then fled the area. Witnesses in the neighborhood heard screams and called the police.
The woman was already dead when medical teams arrived at the scene. Her body was found near by a construction site, local media reports said.
Sarsour reportedly had a valid work permit with which he entered Israel on Tuesday morning. He did not raise any alarm when he went through the Eyal border crossing, north of the city of Kfar Saba in central Israel.
Ynet reported that an unnamed relative of Sarsour’s said he had mental health issues.
“Mousa is a very shy and quiet person. He hardly even talks to his family members. There are things we don’t understand and we will wait for the results of the investigation,” the relative said.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid was notified of the attack, while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
“Terrorism is the embodiment of pure evil. This is a shocking attack by a vile and cowardly terrorist who murdered an elderly woman who could not fight him,” Lapid said.
He vowed to “act hard against terrorism” and “catch the perpetrators and his operators.”
“I send my deepest condolences to the murdered woman's family and strengthen them in their difficult time,” Lapid added.
The attack comes as Israeli security forces shift into high alert, ahead of the Jewish high holidays period which begins with Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish new year – on Sunday. Terrorist activity emerging from Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria has been on the rise in recent months.
Last week, two Palestinian gunmen (including a member of the P.A. security services) shot and killed an Israeli solider, Major Bar Falah, while another gunman shot an 18-year-old man through the window of a yeshiva on Mount Hebron.
The uptick in terrorist activity has drawn the IDF to carry out nightly counterterrorism raids in Palestinian cities, especially around Jenin and Nablus. Some raids deteriorated into violent altercations between Israeli forces and Palestinians and have resulted in arrests, injuries and casualties.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.