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Israeli journalist lauded a 'hero' for shooting alleged Palestinian assailant

Photographer Meshi Ben Ami set to meet Prime Minister Yair Lapid, after he shot man accused of wounding a Jerusalem bus passenger with a screwdriver
Israeli security and emergency service staff deploy at the site of a reported stabbing attack near Ramot, an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied east Jerusalem on 19 July 2022 (AFP)
Israeli security and emergency service staff at the site of a reported stabbing near Ramot, an illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, on 19 July 2022 (AFP)

An Israeli journalist has been described by politicians and media figures as a “hero” after shooting a Palestinian man suspected of stabbing a bus passenger with a screwdriver in occupied East Jerusalem. 

On Tuesday afternoon, a 44-year-old from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank allegedly stabbed a man on a bus near Ramot, an Israeli settlement deemed illegal under international law.

The assault continued outside the bus, until passerby Meshi Ben Ami, a photographer for Israeli news site Ynet, shot the Palestinian with his personal firearm. 

"I was driving from the Ramot neighbourhood toward downtown when I spotted a man lying on top of another and stabbing him," he told Ynet. 

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"I realised this was a stabbing attack. I was a little hesitant at first, but when I saw people running, I had to act. I pulled out my weapon and started running in his direction. He got off the victim and I saw someone throwing a rock at him.

"Then, he approached me, holding the same object he used to stab the victim. It was a screwdriver. He approached me, and I ordered him to halt. He didn't stop and stood feet from me. I felt threatened, I felt my life was in danger, and then I neutralised him."

The 44-year-old Palestinian is in a moderate to serious condition, according to local reports. His victim, in his 40s, did not sustain serious wounds. 

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweeted: “I congratulate the Ynet photographer who entered the arena and acted resolutely to neutralise the terrorist and prevent harm to other people.

We will not allow terrorism to raise its head and disrupt the routine of our lives.”

Weapon not taken by police

On Wednesday, Lapid is set to meet with Ben Ami and another Israeli civilian who fired at the assailant, according to Ynet reporter Haim Goldich.  

“Congratulations to the heroic and brave Ynet photographer - a second time," said transport minister Merav Michaeli, referring to another instance in which Ben Ami shot a Palestinian assailant, six years ago in Jerusalem. 

Israeli rabbi and journalist Jonathan Berim described the photographer as the “hero of the day”, while TV anchor  Attila Somfalvi thanked him for showing “courage and resourcefulness”.

Ben Ami’s weapon was not taken away from him by local security forces, who have praised his actions. Senior Jerusalem police commander Kobi Yaakovi told Ynet: "The police are a body that learns lessons and learns all the time. We have learned the lesson on this issue, we encourage responsible citizens - of course after passing all the tests - to have weapons.  

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We often see brave citizens like the reporter yesterday who is truly a hero and determined.”

In March, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on Israeli civilian gun owners to arm themselves in public following a string of shootings by Palestinians in Israeli cities. 

A total of 11 Israelis were killed a few days apart in the cities of Beersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak, a suburb of Tel Aviv. 

Weeks after the attack, the number of  Israeli citizens applying to purchase arms rose signficantly, according to figures cited in local media. 

In May, Bennett announced the government will form a new “civilian national guard” force that will include units of civilian volunteers and Israeli forces, including reserve soldiers and “border police”, which will operate in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.