A suspected Palestinian stabbed and wounded four Israelis, including a 13-year-old girl, in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat on Saturday evening before fleeing the scene, Israeli police said.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said that an Israeli man was seriously injured and two women and a 13-year-old girl moderately injured in what he described as a “confirmed terrorist attack.”
Shortly afterward, Israeli police said that a mob of Israeli civilians violently beat and bound the hands of a Palestinian Bedouin man they incorrectly believed was the attacker.
The four Israelis and the Bedouin were evacuated to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
Rosenfeld said that special police units were searching Kiryat Gat for the suspected attacker amid “heightened security.”
Israeli news site Ynet reported that “hundreds” of Israeli police officers were taking part in the search and were using helicopters.
Roadblocks had also been placed at roads leading into Kiryat Gat, effectively putting the city under “lockdown,” Ynet reported.
On Thursday, four Israelis and one Palestinian were killed in two separate attacks in Tel Aviv and the illegal settlement bloc of Gush Etzion in the southern West Bank. The Palestinian attackers were afterward arrested.
The attacks have accompanied a wave of popular unrest that has swept the the occupied Palestinian territory since the beginning of October.
While Israelis have sought to blame it on religious incitement, Palestinians have pointed to the nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory, no prospect of a political solution, and a deep sense of frustration and despair.
At least 86 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during the period — many shot dead under circumstances in which rights groups said that Israeli forces used unnecessary force — while at least 16 Israelis have been killed in the same period.
– Read more: 4 Israelis Wounded in Stabbing in Southern Israel, Mob Attacks Bedouin – Maan