American graduate student killed in stabbing rampage near Tel Aviv

The New York Times reports: A Palestinian on a stabbing rampage on Tuesday along a coastal promenade near Tel Aviv killed an American combat veteran who was a graduate student at Vanderbilt University.

The attacks occurred along a popular seaside boulevard in Jaffa, about a mile away from where Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was meeting with a former president of Israel, Shimon Peres.

The stabbing attacks, carried out over 20 minutes, came just after Mr. Biden arrived for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. He is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday.

The American was identified as Taylor Force, 28, a first-year M.B.A. student at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt, the university said in a statement. He was one of 29 students from the graduate school on a trip to Israel to learn about global entrepreneurship, according to a news release from Vanderbilt. The rest of the students, as well as the four faculty and staff members that accompanied them, were safe, it said. [Continue reading…]

Last October, following a knife attack on an Israeli policeman by a 19-year-old Palestinian, Mohammed Ali, Peter Beaumont wrote: How violence plays out in conflict –the weapons used, how attacks are executed and organised and who takes part and against what targets – are indicative of more than simply the act of killing or attempted killing. While the first Palestinian intifada was defined in the popular imagination as the “stone-throwing intifada” and the second as a conflict of suicide bombings and gun attacks, the new surge in violence has been so closely associated with knife attacks that on social media some have dubbed it the “knife intifada”.

At the entrance to the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem where Ali lived, three burned-out, overturned cars – part of a recent barricade – lie facing the Israeli police at the checkpoint in the wall that seals off the camp. The house where Ali’s male relatives are sitting in mourning is deep within the camp’s narrow lanes. They have not yet received his body for burial. His uncles, Assad Mohammed Ali and Mahmoud, tell a story familiar to those who have done these rounds of questioning before. Their nephew, they say, was a popular and happy youth. He had no problems – except he was angry at the Israeli occupation, and in particular at Israeli actions around the flashpoint religious site of the al-Aqsa mosque. So far, so familiar.

“We have a new generation,” another relative standing on a stairs above the uncles interjects, unwilling to be identified. “They are smart and clever. They can’t sustain the humiliation. They think: if you are going to kill us in the end, we should attack first. You have to understand that this generation is well educated. It is well informed and globalised. They can’t be fooled, like we were fooled in the old days. They have their own way of finding out what is going on. Social media and the internet are educating them.”

Asked about why this episode is different from the first and second intifadas, in the weapons of choice and the organisation or lack of it, Assad Mohammed Ali says: “This is a pure intifada. It is pure because it is about individuals’ personal motivation. They are the ones who sparked it.” The other uncle adds: “The last ones were political. This is not political; it is spontaneous.”

Assad Mohammed Ali adds that, confronted with what has been happening at al-Aqsa – with the fatal shootings of Palestinian teenagers – “kids started carrying knives” and his nephew was among them. He suggests a widespread and fatalistic anticipation of death. “When a person thinks death may be imposed, then he wants to die in a heroic way.” He mentions two men from the camp who were killed last year. “The new generation wants to try and imitate them.” [Continue reading…]

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