The terrorist who carried out a deadly stabbing and spurring attack in Beersheba on Tuesday has been identified as an Israeli Arab from the southern Bedouin town of Hura, a former school teacher and supporter of the Islamic State, who served a prison sentence for terrorism.
Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, 34, has been identified as the man who killed four people and injured two others in the attack outside a shopping mall in the southern city, before being shot dead by a bus driver and another passerby.
He died of his injuries, doctors said.
A resident of the nearby Bedouin town of Hura, Abu al-Qi’an was a primary school teacher before being sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 for affiliation with Islamic State and attempting to recruit people into the jihadist group. .
He admitted while in police custody to having created a secret group that would hold clandestine meetings linked to the Islamic State and to having planned to leave Israel under the pretext of a pilgrimage to Mecca, but with the real objective of joining the fighters of IS in Syria.
Abu al-Qi’an, who was indicted in 2015 along with two other teachers and several others for supporting IS, also gave sermons to community members – including minors – promoting IS and claiming that the extremist group had not moved away from Islam.
According to the Haaretz daily, during his sentencing, Abu al-Qi’an, then a father of five children, told the judge that he regretted his actions and wanted to return to his family.
It was not immediately clear what Abu al-Qi’an had been up to since his release from prison in 2019.
Tuesday’s knife attack was hailed by the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups. Neither claimed him as a member. There was no initial reaction from the Islamic State.
The local council of Hura “condemned in every possible way the deadly attack”.
“Attacking innocent civilians is a criminal and despicable act of terrorism,” he said in a statement. “The council calls on the Arabs and Jews of the Negev to maintain the neighborly relations between the two parties that have existed until now.”
The rampage was the deadliest attack on Israeli civilians since June 2016, when two terrorists opened fire in Tel Aviv’s Sarona market, killing four people and injuring 16.
The attack came amid a series of attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Officials have warned of a possible outbreak of violence during Ramadan next month.
Tensions have risen after nine Palestinians were killed in violent clashes with Israeli troops in recent weeks, including in shootouts with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank during raids, as well as in attempted attacks.