Two Arab Israeli teenagers were arrested Feb. 4 and accused of stabbing a 27-year-old security guard in a mall in the town of Ramla.
The 13-year-old girls reportedly approached a checkpoint and when they were asked for ID, they took kitchen knives from their backpacks and launched their attack, media reports say.
The guard was slightly injured in the leg and arm, and was taken to hospital.
“The security guy came inside stabbed, and yelled he was stabbed. I ran outside and kicked hard in order to neutralize, and they were pinned to the ground. In moments like that I think they should be killed,” Ido, a witness, told Ynet News.
Police allowed a passerby to spit in one of the alleged attackers’ faces as she was handcuffed.
According to JNS, the girls told police interrogators they came to Ramla to “kill Jews.”
“Indications are that the motive was nationalistic,” Luba Samri, a police spokesman, told Ynet.
A relative of the girls, who come from Jawarish, denied this claim.
“We still don’t know what caused the girls to stab the security guard. We’re all in shock and have a hard time figuring out the truth,” the relative told Ynet. “The two girls are kind and nice and would never be willing to commit a terror attack like they say. I demand the Israeli police and the government to be patient and not rush to conclusions and saying it was nationalistically motivated.”
Authorities in Ramla sought to reassure residents of the city.
“We are talking about two minors who have been arrested and the police are currently investigating the circumstances of the attack,” Mayor Yoel Levi said in a statement, JNS reported. “This incident is not typical of the Arab sector in Ramla. Ramla is a multicultural city where Jews live alongside Arabs in coexistence and good neighborly relations.”
The stabbing is the latest incident in a series of violent acts perpetrated by Israelis and Palestinians over recent months.
In late January, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Israel’s “stifling” occupation of the Palestinian territory for provoking a violent response, Agence France-Presse reported.
The U.N. previously described Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements as “illegal,” because it is taking land away from a future Palestinian state.