The terrorist was able to enter the bus station armed with a pistol and a knife and first attempted to stab a woman, who fended him off with pepper spray. He then shot dead 19-year-old Sergeant Omri Levy, stole his M-16 rifle and opened fire on others. Five were seriously wounded and evacuated to the nearby Soroka Hospital. The assailant was pursued by security forces who shot him dead.
The terrorist was identified as Mouhand al-Okbi, a Bedouin Israeli citizen, from the Negev town of Hura. Israeli Bedouin leaders expressed shock and condemned the “despicable” attack.
In the mayhem, Habtom Zerhom, an Eritrean migrant in his late 20s, had run into the station to seek cover, police said. An anti-terror officer and a Border Policeman mistakenly identified the Eritrean as a second attacker and shot him. A crowd of onlookers also attacked the man they believed to be a terrorist, who later died of his wounds.
Security camera footage authenticated by police showed a chaotic scene of people rushing for cover during which the Zerhom runs around a kiosk and is shot by the guard. Another video from the scene, shot on a cell phone and aired by Israeli media, appears to show people angrily kicking the wounded Eritrean in the head and body.
The incident has been widely condemned in Israel, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has underlined that Israel is “a country of law. No one will take the law into his own hands. That’s the first rule”.