Jerusalem Mayor Tackles Knife-Wielding Terrorist
JERUSALEM, Israel -- Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat found himself in the midst of a terror attack near his office on Sunday.
Surveillance video captured the mayor and a bodyguard approaching a knife-wielding Arab teenager, later identified as Mohammed Said Abu-Etzbah, 18, from Bir Zeit near Ramallah, threatening others after stabbing a haredi man.
Barkat and a bodyguard exited the car without hesitation.
"About an hour and a half ago, when I was on my way to the office for a meeting, while we were at the junction right next to City Hall, my driver and my team noticed something happening," Barkat later told reporters. "I got out of the car with my bodyguard and we approached the scene and noticed a terrorist with a knife in his hand.
"Without thinking, my bodyguard took out his weapon and when he aimed at the terrorist, the terrorist dropped his knife and we immediately tackled him to the ground to make sure that he could not continue with the terror attack," Barkat explained.
After subduing the attacker, they administered first aid while assessing the situation and waiting for police and the ambulance to arrive.
The surveillance footage shows the mayor attending to the victim, later identified as Avraham Goldschmidt from Betar Illit, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood near Jerusalem. The father of four was reportedly returning from study and prayer when he was stabbed.
Goldschmidt said he fought back, using his tefillin (phylacteries) bag to block the attack, but was unable to prevent the stabbing. He warned others, later thanking God, the mayor and everyone who helped him.
"I hit him," he later told Barkat from his room at Jerusalem's Shaare Tzedik hospital. "I threw my teffilin at him and I kept eye contact with the terrorist the whole time."
Goldschmidt said the mayor and his bodyguard used "remarkable resourcefulness."
"God watches over us and always will," he said.
At a press conference Monday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Barkat for his courage.
"I think it's terrific," Netanyahu said. "I think the mayor showed exemplary courage. He and his bodyguard assaulted the terrorist, prevented more injuries possibly a stabbing and a death."
"Societies terrorized by terror need to show different kind of courage," Netanyahu continued. "They need the courage of governments that will fight terrorism and not knuckle under it but they also need courage of individuals to fight terrorism whenever that is required and I think we saw an example of that yesterday."
As in the past, the mayor encouraged city residents to go about their normal lives, not yielding to fear.
"We made sure the city went back to life as quickly as possible," he said, also thanking God the incident was over.
Barkat is no stranger to confrontations. Following his three-year compulsory military duty, he reenlisted for another three years and served as a commander of his unit. He was wounded in the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.
After leaving the IDF, Barkat launched a successful career in hi-tech before running for mayor of Jerusalem. He was defeated in his first run for office and decided to try again in 2009.
Now in his second term, he and his staff have invested heavily in efforts to improve life for the city's Arab residents.